An American academic has given a graphic account of the moment the London Bridge stabbing attack began, saying it “felt like a warzone”.
Bryonn Bain told the BBC that victim Jack Merritt had been the first person to confront Usman Khan when he launched his knife assault during a prisoner rehabilitation conference on Friday.
“I saw people die, I saw things that I will never be able to unsee,” he said.
Vigils have taken place for Mr Merritt, 25, and second victim Saskia Jones, 23.
Three other people were also injured in the attack before Khan was shot dead by armed officers on London Bridge – two are still in hospital in a stable condition.
Prof Bain said former offenders attending the University of Cambridge-linked conference “stepped up and intervened” to tackle Khan, and people at Fishmongers’ Hall owed their lives to the actions of those who had previously spent time in jail.
He said two men from his performance poetry workshop immediately ran towards shouts from elsewhere in Fishmongers’ Hall in the City of London as the attack began, and as shouts grew louder he also went to assist.
“That’s when I ran down and saw the scene unfolding there,” he said. “I was able to see the attacker.”
He added: “It felt like a warzone… it felt like total chaos.”
Prof Bain said course co-ordinator Mr Merritt was “the first line of defence”.
“I want to honour him,” Prof Bain said of Mr Merritt. “I want to honour his father’s wishes which have been explicit to not have his life be used for political purposes to ramp up draconian policies, because that’s not what he was about.”
Mr Merritt’s father criticised newspaper coverage of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to review the early release of convicted terrorists.
Writing in the Guardian, David Merritt says his son “would be seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against”.
The article calls for a justice system that focuses on rehabilitation, rather than revenge, and criticises indeterminate sentences, saying his son worked for “a world where we do not lock up and throw away the key”.
Prof Bain added: “I want to make sure that as much as possible that we uphold the heroes of the day, were formerly incarcerated people, some of the folks who are often easiest to dehumanise.
“They stepped up and many of the folks in that space would not be here today if it weren’t for these guys who did time in prison and literally saved lives.”
In other developments on Monday:
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his response to the attack after Mr Merritt’s father criticised newspaper coverage of Mr Johnson’s pledge to review the early release of convicted terrorists
- Mr Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attended a vigil at the Guildhall near London Bridge to honour those caught up in the attack
- London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the best way to defeat the hatred shown in the attack was to focus on the values of hope, unity and love
- BBC News learned the attacker, Usman Khan, 28, had been under investigation by the security service MI5 since his release from prison last year, but given one of the lowest priorities. He had been convicted of a terrorism offence in 2012
- As part of his release conditions, Khan was obliged to take part in the government’s desistance and disengagement programme – which aims to rehabilitate those involved in terrorism
Vigils for the victims of the attack were also held in Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University, which Ms Jones had previously attended.
Mr Merritt and Ms Jones both studied for masters degrees at the University of Cambridge’s institute of criminology and had been taking part in an event for its Learning Together programme – which focuses on education within the criminal justice system – when they were killed.
Mr Merritt, from Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, was a co-ordinator of the Learning Together programme and Ms Jones, from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, a volunteer
The victims’ families paid tribute to their loved ones at the weekend.
Ms Jones’s family said their daughter had a “great passion” for supporting victims of criminal justice.
In a statement, Mr Merritt’s family described him as a “talented boy” who “died doing what he loved”.
Toby Williamson, chief executive of Fishmongers’ Hall, praised the bravery of his staff who intervened to stop the attacker, hailing their actions as “extraordinary things done by ordinary people”.
Mr Williamson told how Polish chef Lukasz suffered five wounds to his left-hand side as he fended off the knifeman with a narwhal tusk during “about a minute of one-on-one straight combat” – allowing others time to escape danger.
A group of hall staff, ex-offenders, prison and probation staff are believed to have drawn Khan out on to London Bridge where he was subsequently shot dead by armed police.
Khan, who admitted preparing terrorist acts in 2012, was released from prison in December 2018 after serving half of his sentence.
The BBC understands Khan was formally under investigation by MI5 as he left jail but placed in the second-to-bottom category of investigations as his initial risk to the public was thought to be minimal.
This was consistent with the grading given to most other people convicted of terrorism offences as they go back into the community under a release licence.
A low level of prioritisation is assigned to offenders such as Khan because their release comes with a strict set of licence conditions.
These conditions theoretically provide suitable monitoring and oversight, such as alerts if they contact other suspects or travel outside an approved area.
Khan, the BBC has learned, was on the highest-level of such community monitoring. The overall package, in theory, relieves pressure on MI5 so the security service can focus on more immediate threats.
Friday was the first time that Khan, who wore a GPS tag, had been permitted to travel to London since he left prison. The BBC has been told that – earlier in the year – Khan was refused permission to travel to Stoke-on-Trent, which is where he grew up, in order to attend a social event.
The prime minister said on Sunday that 74 people jailed for terror offences and released early would have their licence conditions reviewed..
Police said two terror-related arrests following Friday’s incident, in Staffordshire and north London, were not directly connected to the London Bridge attack.
It came after the UK’s terrorism threat level was downgraded on 4 November from “severe” to “substantial”, meaning that attacks were thought to be “likely” rather than “highly likely”.
Fulham’s top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic is available to return for the visit of Derby County after serving a ban.
Aboubakar Kamara, who scored two goals in Friday’s win over QPR while deputising for the Serb, may drop out.
Derby will check on midfielder Graeme Shinnie (hamstring) and forward Mason Bennett (ankle), who were both forced off during their win over Preston.
Matt Clarke, Scott Malone and Tom Huddlestone (all knee) and Ikechi Anya (calf) remain sidelined.
- Fulham have lost just one of their past 14 home league matches against Derby County (W7 D6 L1), a 1-0 defeat in April 1969.
- Six of the past seven league meetings between Fulham and Derby at Craven Cottage have ended as draws.
- Fulham have a higher possession figure (66.6%) and high percentage of short passes (90.2%) than any other team in the Championship this season.
- Derby have not lost four consecutive away league matches since March 2017 under Steve McClaren.
- Fulham striker Aboubakar Kamara has scored doubles in each of his last two Championship starts at Craven Cottage, doing so in January 2018 against Ipswich and in their last home game against QPR.
- Derby have won none of their past 11 away league visits to London (D7 L4) with their last win in the capital in December 2016 away at QPR.
Two teenagers have been jailed for life for murdering a 17-year-old girl in an east London park.
Jodie Chesney was stabbed in the back as she sat with friends in Harold Hill on 1 March.
Svenson Ong-a-Kwie, 19, and Arron Isaacs, 17, of Barking, were both convicted earlier this month after a trial at the Old Bailey.
Ong-a-Kwie, of Romford, will serve a minimum of 26 years while Isaacs was detained for at least 18 years.
Explaining the sentences, Judge Wendy Joseph QC told the court she was “satisfied” Ong-a-Kwie had stabbed Jodie while Isaacs was a “willing supporter”.
“When that knife was driven into Jodie, that intention was to kill,” she said.
She added that her death “was part of a series of tit-for-tat attacks” which had been “increasing in ferocity”, and “although the target was not Jodie… there was a degree of planning”.
During the trial, each of the defendants blamed each other for the attack but a jury took less than six hours to find them both guilty of murder.
In an impact statement read before sentencing, Jodie’s father Peter Chesney said the death of his daughter “has destroyed my life”.
The 39-year-old, who was not in court, described how a year ago he had started a new job as a salesman in the City “and I was about to take over the world in a promising career.
“Now I sit here in the cabin in my garden writing this statement. I have left that job, the relationship with my wife has fallen apart and we are now getting divorced. I must sell my house, and above all, I have lost the most precious human being I will ever know,” he said.
Following the stabbing, Jodie collapsed into the arms of her boyfriend Eddie Coyle who told the court he had been “completely changed” by the events of that night.
“I find it hard to sleep most of the time. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD from this, and it keeps me up most nights so I don’t sleep,” he said.
The court had heard drug dealer Ong-a-Kwie and his runner Isaacs had been looking to take revenge on rivals but had killed Jodie by mistake.
She had been socialising with friends that evening when two figures emerged out of the dark and one plunged a knife in her back.
The two defendants fled in another drug dealer’s car but were arrested together days later as they fled from a house linked to Isaacs, the jury were told.
Ong-a-Kwie had convictions for possessing and supplying drugs and had admitted being in breach of a six-week suspended sentence for handling stolen jewellery.
Two other people – Manuel Petrovic, 20, of Romford, and a 16-year-old boy – were both cleared of murder and manslaughter.
Met Police officer Det Insp Perry Benton described the investigation as “one of the hardest I’ve ever dealt with”, adding that the defendants “have shown no remorse from day one”.
Speaking following the sentencing, Jodie’s uncle Terry Chesney said the family were “happy” with the jail terms and would now “try” to get on with their lives.
“Today was justice. We’ll never get her back, but we’ve got justice,” he said.
Granit Xhaka says he has been hurt by the “extreme hostility” directed towards him from Arsenal supporters, but has promised to prove his worth.
The Switzerland midfielder has not played for the club since.
“It was very hurtful and frustrating,” Xhaka told Swiss newspaper Blick.
“I can’t understand a reaction like that even now, especially the vehemence of it and the extreme hostility directed against me.”
Xhaka was booed as he walked off the pitch as he was substituted against Palace, prompting him to cup his ear, take his shirt off and head straight down the tunnel to the dressing room.
“When my shirt number lit up on the fourth official’s panel and our own fans broke into gleeful jubilation, that hit me very hard and really upset me,” he added.
“Insulting and swearing at your own captain will cause upset and a bad atmosphere for the team you are actually supposed to be supporting; that makes no sense to me and weakens the team’s spirit.”
Arsenal manager Unai Emery said last week that he was unsure whether the midfielder would play for the club again, adding that “he was not ready” to return for Saturday’s match at Leicester, which the Gunners lost 2-0.
Xhaka, though, says he is fully committed to the club and is ready to move on from the incident.
“I’ve been 100% behind the club and my role as a player since I came here,” he said.
“I’m proud to be playing for this big club. I’ll continue to stay positive, give my all to an even greater extent and prove that I’m an important part of this great team.
“Last week in particular was a very special, emotional experience for me but I’m doing very well again, I’ve trained well this week and am looking forward to my next assignments.”
The government is being urged to fund a memorial to remember the victims of the Transatlantic slave trade.
The charity Memorial 2007 has planning permission for a sculpture in London’s Hyde Park, but has been unable to raise £4m to fund it.
Consent granted in 2016 for the memorial in the Rose Gardens is due to expire on 7 November unless the charity can secure an extension.
It said millions had been given to for a Holocaust memorial “but not to us”.
More than 53,000 people have signed a petition asking the government to build a major memorial to remember the victims of the British slave trade.
Britain became the world’s leading slave-trading nation with Liverpool port its largest handler of slaves, followed by Bristol, Glasgow and London.
Millions of Africans were shipped and sold in the 17th and 18th Centuries in horrendous conditions as merchants profited.
Teacher Oku Ekpenyon has campaigned since 2002 for a dedicated memorial after being asked by a pupil of African heritage at the Tower of London, “Miss, where is our history?”
“The government has supported over the years various memorials financially; why not support us?” she said.
The charity, supported only by volunteers, has raised £100,000 through small donations.
Ms Ekpenyon said the subject matter was “too sensitive for some people to countenance”, with big donors or corporations veering away from supporting them.
Toyin Agbetu, founder of Ligali, a pan-African human rights organisation, said: ” Memorials are such an important part of the national narrative.
“If we’ve got a war memorial to animals who died (in Hyde Park), we certainly can have a memorial for some of those ancestors of many of those people in this nation who actually helped build it up.”
The government said it “carefully considered” each request for funding.
It said: “We are supportive of the aims of the monument and the organisation. The suffering caused by slavery and the slave trade are among the most dishonourable and abhorrent chapters in human history.”
One of the men convicted of murdering soldier Lee Rigby has admitted assaulting a nurse at the high-security Broadmoor Hospital.
Michael Adebowale, 28, punched a healthcare assistant while being held in the Berkshire hospital on 20 July last year, Reading Crown Court heard.
Adebowale was serving a 45-year term for the 2013 killing of Fusilier Rigby in Woolwich, south-east London.
He was jailed for eight months to be served at the end of his sentence.
After denying a more serious charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm, Adebowale pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm.
Adebowale, who now uses the name Ismaail Kuti, along with Michael Adebolajo, drove into Fusilier Rigby with a car before hacking him to death.
The court heard Adebowale had been a patient at Broadmoor when health assistant Jason Taplin asked him to turn down music he was playing through his MP3 player on the TV in the day ward.
Prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC said Adebowale had returned to his room “upset and annoyed” before reappearing and attacking Mr Taplin, who was doing paperwork at his desk.
The nurse was taken to hospital for an injury to his left jaw which took six weeks to heal, the court heard.
Sasha Wass QC, defending, said Adebowale was being treated for paranoid schizophrenia.
“He is clearly unwell, he clearly had a lapse in self control and he regained his self control and he immediately showed his remorse by writing a letter to Mr Taplin,” she said.
“His medication was not sufficient to deal with the psychotic state he experienced on July 20 of last year and as a result of that state he administered the blow.”
Adebowale has spent three periods in Broadmoor since his conviction, and is expected to spend the next “five or 10 years” there, the court heard.
The court heard a family visit for Adebowale had been cancelled, as well as a canteen visit, before the attack.
He appeared via video link from the secure hospital for the hearing.
Sentencing Adebowale, Mr Justice Jay said: “It was a combination of the illness and the stress working on your mind which was a material factor in your case.”
The victim sustained a “serious injury” which “would have been very painful”, he added.
The charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm was left on file.
Fusilier Rigby, a father-of-one, died as a result of multiple cut and stab wounds after the attack fuelled by Adebowale and Adebolajo’s extremist beliefs, described as a “betrayal of Islam” at their murder trial in 2014.
A London flight to Philadelphia has been diverted to Dublin after reports of a “chemical spillage” on board.
American Airlines said two crew members and one passenger went to hospital “for evaluation” after flight AA729 from Heathrow landed at 13:15 GMT on Monday.
Airbus A330-300 landed due to an odour “caused by a spilled cleaning solution in the galley”, it added.
One passenger wrote on Twitter that the spillage “led to sickness outbreak and an emergency landing”.
Another passenger reported noticing “noxious smells” on board the flight.
An audio clip has appeared online, purporting to be a recording of a conversation between the pilot and an air traffic controller.
In it, the pilot is heard to say that two cabin staff had “actually lost consciousness” after being exposed to the cleaning product.
“I’m told it is not a toxic substance,” he added.
The Irish Aviation Authority said it does not release such conversations and was therefore “not in a position to authenticate it”.
A spokeswoman for Dublin Airport said that the flight had been diverted “for a medical emergency”.
“As per standard operating procedures there was a full turn-out of Dublin Airport’s emergency fire services,” she added.
A second American Airlines flight was met by emergency vehicles after it also was diverted to Dublin on Monday.
The airline said flight 787, from Paris to Charlotte in North Carolina was diverted after a passenger fell ill.
The passenger was taken from the plane for treatment and the flight is scheduled to depart later on Monday, a spokeswoman added.
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Two men and three teenagers have gone on trial accused of a gangland murder described as being “reminiscent of a Hollywood film”.
Kamali Gabbidon-Lynck, 19, bled to death after being stabbed at a hair salon in Vincent Road, Wood Green.
He was killed in an attack on 22 February as a result of “a longstanding and mutual hatred” between two rival gangs, the Old Bailey heard.
Another man, Jason Fraser, 20, was shot and stabbed eight times but survived.
Tyrell Graham, 18, and four others who cannot be named for legal reasons, deny murder and attempted murder.
The jury heard the five defendants and two other men had gone to Wood Green armed with knives, a handgun and a shotgun.
Mr Gabbidon-Lynck ran into a hair salon when he was confronted by the group.
The court heard the teenager, who was linked to a North London gang called the WGM, died after one of the knife blows severed an artery.
His alleged killers were said to be linked to Tottenham gang the NPK.
They were part of “an armed group who chased down their targets, they produced their weapons and they butchered them”, said prosecutor Oliver Glasgow, QC.
Members of the public, including mothers with pushchairs, ran for their lives as the violence unfolded, the jury heard.
Mr Glasgow added it was “more reminiscent of a Hollywood film than a winter’s night in north London”.
The trial continues.
A former MP falsely accused of being part of a VIP paedophile ring has branded a review of how detectives handled the claims as “a whitewash”.
The police watchdog identified “organisational failings” but cleared five detectives of misconduct.
Ex-MP Harvey Proctor said a report by the police watchdog was “a pathetic attempt” to excuse mistakes by police – while a retired judge said the report was “lamentably slow”.
The watchdog said it had been thorough.
Carl Beech, 51, was jailed for 18 years for making false allegations of sexual abuse and murder about a group of MPs, generals and senior figures in the intelligence services.
His claims led to a £2.5m investigation, known as Operation Midland. The investigation closed without any arrests being made, and Beech – who had been known as “Nick” for the duration of the police probe – was subsequently jailed for his lies.
In its report into Operation Midland, published on Monday, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found no evidence of misconduct.
However, it said it found “gaps and shortcomings” in the police investigation process.
It made 16 recommendations to avoid mistakes being repeated, including on search warrants and ensuring allegations are investigated objectively.
Beech’s claims prompted searches of the homes of former Conservative MP Mr Proctor, D-Day veteran and former chief of the defence staff Lord Bramall and former home secretary Leon Brittan’s widow, Lady Diana Brittan.
In a 2016 report into Operation Midland – which was partly published by Scotland Yard last week – retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques found:
- The searches “should not have taken place”
- The warrants were obtained “unlawfully”
- Police “misled” the magistrate who approved them, including by describing Beech as a credible witness who had been “consistent” in his account
The IOPC said it found no evidence the officers who were investigated had deliberately misled the district judge by omitting any mention of inconsistencies.
But it acknowledged it was “unable to establish with any clarity or certainty” what exactly the officers knew about Beech’s evidence.
The report said it was “unclear” when details recording Beech’s inconsistencies began to be recorded, and that the watchdog did not know which inconsistencies were known to the officers “at any specific time”.
IOPC director general Michael Lockwood said in the report: “Did the officers involved make mistakes? Yes. Could police processes have been improved? Almost certainly. But did they deliberately exclude information to secure the warrants? Our investigation found no evidence of that.”
Mr Proctor said the IOPC could not be trusted and should be replaced with “experts who are genuinely qualified to assess and to criticise police failings”.
He said the searches were to help the police’s “public relations” in the aftermath of the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal – rather than being conducted in good faith, as the report claimed they were.
Mr Proctor’s lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC said it was “outrageous that the IOPC should think it is a valid excuse for accusing innocent men of heinous crimes or misleading a judge to obtain a search warrant for their homes”.
Mr Proctor also called for the IOPC to identify the “young decision-maker” who concluded no misconduct had been shown.
What is the IOPC and what are its powers?
The Independent Office for Police Conduct took over investigations into police misconduct in England and Wales in January 2018.
Previously, it had operated under the name of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
The watchdog is able to initiate its own investigations and can direct police forces to hold misconduct hearings.
If complaints against officers are proven valid, they can recommend actions and – in serious cases of misconduct – hand over information to prosecutors.
Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said she was “deeply sorry” for mistakes made during Operation Midland.
“I recognise our mistakes will have a lasting effect on those who endured intrusive inquiries and were thrust into the spotlight,” she said in a statement.
She said the loss of trust in the police by those people was a “matter of great regret for me”.
The commissioner also said she welcomed an inspection into the investigation, which was requested by Home Secretary Priti Patel following the publication of Sir Richard’s review.
Sir Richard said the IOPC report was “flawed” and “fell well short of an effective investigation”.
Writing in the Daily Mail newspaper, Sir Richard said the police watchdog embarked upon a “lamentably slow and inadequate process” in reviewing the work of five Met detectives involved in obtaining search warrants.
He wrote: “Who guards the guards themselves?… A malfunctioning police force has not received the necessary oversight.”
Sir Richard said the officers’ belief that Beech had “remained consistent” in his accounts of sexual abuse was incorrect and that police “failed to disclose seven factors that undermined Beech’s credibility”.
He added that he had only been contacted after 20 months, and told that two of the five officers under investigation had already been cleared.
The IOPC continued to investigate three officers, but they retired before it published its findings.
By Daniel De Simone, BBC News home affairs
The police watchdog – in its many guises – has often been criticised, but rarely by such a senior figure.
It stands accused of lacking investigative guile and basic knowledge, and of possessing poor judgement.
Controversy over capabilities is not new – and will not abate in the near future, despite its recent rebranding.
One of its other most high-profile investigation of recent years – into the Met’s disastrous initial response to the serial killer Stephen Port – also resulted in no disciplinary action being recommended, a conclusion that will come under significant scrutiny next year when fresh inquests take place.
The Sean Rigg case, which saw the watchdog’s inquiry initial inquiry damned as error-ridden, took over a decade to reach misconduct proceedings, resulting in five officers being cleared this year. The process was so lengthy that one officer had been ordained as a priest in the intervening years.
But when the IOPC did use its powers to order the Met to hold gross misconduct proceedings, for a firearms officer who shot dead Jermaine Baker in north London four years ago, it was defeated in the High Court this summer and told it had applied the wrong evidential test.
Sir Richard said he was “alarmed” by the watchdog’s “lack of knowledge of relevant criminal procedure”.
He concluded it was possible that not all five officers committed misconduct, but added: “I find it difficult to conceive that no misconduct or criminality was involved by at least one officer.”
A member of the Home Affairs Select Committee said the report was “toothless, shoddy and unconvincing”. Conservative MP Tim Loughton added he had “serious questions” about whether the IOPC was “fit for purpose”.
The IOPC said its review of the officers’ work “was not a cursory exercise” and “independent and impartial”.
It reviewed more than 1,800 documents and 300 statements, gathering 14 independent witness accounts and accounts from three officers who were under investigation, a spokesperson said.
An anti-abortion billboard campaign targeted at pregnant MP Stella Creasy is being pulled down amid claims the posters were a form of harassment.
The Walthamstow MP said she was being targeted by anti-abortion group CBRUK because of her pro-choice stance.
Clear Chanel, which owned the billboards, apologised and said it was taking immediate action to remove them.
Ms Creasy has called for the company to donate money from the campaign to an abortion support charity.
Earlier on social media, she criticised the Met Police’s refusal to intervene and to act to “stop the harassment”.
The ASA said it had so far received 20 complaints about the poster campaign.
“Our rules state that ads must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence,” an ASA spokesperson said.
In a statement, Clear Channel said it took a “neutral stance” on advertising and had processes to ensure all posters complied with UK Advertising Codes.
“While this campaign met these requirements, we accept that the content should have been scrutinised in greater detail and should not have been displayed,” it said, adding that it would review its internal processes to ensure it did not happen again.
Ruth Rawlins, of CBRUK, claimed Ms Creasy had shown “hypocrisy” by only using the word baby “when a child is wanted but totally ignores the word in conversations about an unwanted baby”.
She added: “We will, in the near future, be holding other MPs to account.”
At the weekend the anti-abortion group, which is affiliated to the CBR group in the United States, leafleted shoppers in Walthamstow High Street. The Met said officers had attended the planned protest, which “concluded peacefully”.
“Officers listened to concerns about the content of parts of the protest but no criminal offences were committed,” the force said in a statement.
A picture shared by Ms Creasy on Monday showed one of the six posters that appeared around Walthamstow had been covered with white paint.
The MP’s office said she had also appealed to the Home Secretary Priti Patel to step in over the alleged harassment.
Ms Creasy tabled a recent amendment to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland, which was passed by a majority in the Commons in July.
Ilford Labour MP Wes Streeting on Twitter described the poster campaign as “appalling”.
“Just so we’re clear about what’s happening here, protesters have made it clear that they are targeting Stella while she is pregnant because she is pregnant.”
Comedian Shappi Khorsandi added her voice to the objections and said: “‘Stop Stella’????. This isn’t free speech, it’s harassment.”