In Brief

London Bridge victim’s father criticises Boris Johnson

Dave Merritt says prime minister used tragedy as political ‘opportunity’

The father of Jack Merritt, who was murdered in the London Bridge terrorist attack last month, has accused Boris Johnson of treating his son’s death as a political “opportunity”.

Speaking to Sky News, Dave Merritt 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.

“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.”

In the wake of the London Bridge attack, the prime minister wrote an article in the Mail on Sunday calling for changes to sentencing laws. “Send me back to No 10 and I will end automatic early release of violent offenders and terrorists,” he promised.

“As prime minister, I will always back our security services, our police and our troops. I will give them the funding they need and I will boost their numbers,” wrote Johnson.

He added: “I will ensure that they do not come under constant attack from the human rights lobby who would weaken our anti-terror laws.”

However, Merritt said that Johnson's response was “knee-jerk reaction” and “an ill-considered intervention”.

Earlier, in an article for The Guardian, Merritt had struck a similar chord, writing: “Jack would be livid his death has been used to further an agenda of hate. He would be seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against. We should never forget that.”

Jack Merritt was stabbed to death in the chest in the attack on 29 November. His father says he has received no contact from the prime minister or 10 Downing Street in the wake of his son's murder.

A message was passed on that Home Secretary Priti Patel wanted to meet to “express her condolences,” he said, but the family declined.

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