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Sat, 30 May 2020

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Dad of London Bridge victim says Boris Johnson ‘didn't see tragedy, he saw opportunity’

Dad of London Bridge victim says Boris Johnson ‘didn't see tragedy, he saw opportunity’
3 min read

The father of one of the London Bridge terror attack victims has accused Boris Johnson of using his son's death as "an opportunity to score some points in the election".

David Merritt, whose son Jack was murdered by Usman Khan last month, accused the Prime Minister of an “ill-considered intervention” when he called for tougher sentences for terrorists.

Speaking to Sky News he said: "What was required was just a dignified approach, whereby the politicians would express their regrets, express their condolences to the people affected and would then get on with campaigning in the election - it wasn't an election issue."

He added: "Instead of seeing a tragedy, Boris Johnson saw an opportunity, and he went on the offensive and started talking about extending the tariff for prisoners serving sentences with a maximum of 25 years."

Jack, 25, was one of two people killed by Khan, a convicted terrorist freed on licence after serving hallf of his sentence over a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange.

He had been attending an event organised by the rehabilitation charity Learning Together when he carried out the deadly knife attack.

Responding to the incident, Mr Johnson wrote an article criticising the "failed approaches of the past" and blaming sentencing laws brought in by Labour for leading to Khan’s early release.

But Mr Merritt said: "I thought, ‘this is totally irrelevant; this is nothing to do with this case’.

"You're talking about increasing the time that all prisoners have to spend in jail on the back of this one case and this person - Khan - was a convicted terrorist.

"Most of the people on the Learning Together course are not terrorists - yes, a lot of them are violent offenders, but why should they be punished even more for what this one individual has done?

"It was just such an ill-considered intervention, almost like a knee-jerk reaction. I think he saw an opportunity to score some points in the election.

"Immediately he said 'this is Labour's fault, they allowed this to happen, they had this early release policy and so on', and at that point I had to say something."



He said he felt "the situation was being exploited", adding: "It just struck me as being crass and insensitive and - as we've already said - Jack would have been extremely upset at the way things were developing."

Mr Merritt also said the PM made no effort to contact him before using Jack’s death to justify tougher sentencing.

Asked if he found the remarks offensive he said. “I did. There was attempt to reference us.

“No attempt to contact us and discuss this with us or with anybody else.”

He said police officers looking after the family did pass on a message saying the Home Secretary Priti Patel wanted to meet them to "express her condolences", but they declined.

A spokesperson for Mr Johnson said: "The Prime Minister has expressed his deepest condolences to Mr Merritt for his tragic loss - an experience no family should have to go through.

"The Prime Minister's view remains it is 'extraordinary and wrong' that Khan had been released halfway through his prison sentence and has long argued that sentencing should be tougher for violent and extremist offenders."

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