Family of terror attack victim backs new law for security in public spaces

Michelle Jones' 23-year-old daughter was killed alongside Jack Merritt, 25 in the attack near London Bridge exactly one year ago.
Family of terror attack victim backs new law for security in public spaces

Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were killed in the Fishmongers’ Hall terror attack in November 2019 (Metropolitan Police/PA)

The family of a young woman killed in the Fishmongers’ Hall terror attack is taking part in consultations for a new law to ensure “proper security” in public spaces.

Saskia Jones’s mother Michelle Jones said she wants new legislation to help “avoid another family being torn apart in similar circumstances”.

Her 23-year-old daughter was killed alongside Jack Merritt, 25 in the attack near London Bridge exactly one year ago.

They were stabbed by convicted terrorist Usman Khan during a prisoner rehabilitation event.

In a statement released through the Metropolitan Police, Michelle Jones said she is working to create several legacies in Ms Jones’ name “that could be the foundation of improving the lives of others from the many causes she supported”.

She said: “Although it is early days, we will also be taking part in consultations to launch a new law (security legislation) for businesses and operators of public spaces who hold events.

“This legislation will ensure that proper security measures are in place to avoid another family being torn apart in similar circumstances.”

Khan, 28, was out on licence when he attended the event armed with two kitchen knives and wearing a fake suicide vest.

He was tackled by members of the public with a narwhal tusk, a decorative pike and a fire extinguisher before he was shot dead by police on London Bridge.

Ms Jones and Mr Merritt were commemorated on Sunday – the one-year anniversary of the attack.

In a pre-recorded address, the Rev Canon David Parrott, guild vicar of the Church of St Lawrence Jewry and chaplain to the City of London Corporation, paid tribute to those affected by the attack.

In the virtual act of remembrance, broadcast online, he asked the public to remember the staff and attendees of Fishmongers’ Hall on the day of the incident, and the first responders who came to their aid.

Jack Merritt (Metropolitan Police/PA)

He said: “For those who rush toward danger, bringing hope and comfort.

“For those who serve, protect and guide others to safety.

“For those who risk their own lives for the sake of others.

“For all for whom that day remains a traumatic memory.”

Saskia Jones (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Colleagues of the victims are also marking the anniversary in an event organised by Cambridge University’s Learning Together programme, of which Mr Merritt was a course co-ordinator and Ms Jones was a volunteer.

Ruth Armstrong and Amy Ludlow, co-directors of Learning Together, said in a joint statement: “Our thoughts are with everyone who was there with us that day, and all who have been impacted.

“We grieve especially for the loss of our inspirational colleague Jack, and our brilliant alumna Saskia.

“Their families and friends are uppermost in our hearts and minds.

“We stand with our whole community, determined to play our part in building towards a better world for us all.”

Cambridge University vice-chancellor Professor Stephen J Toope said Mr Merritt and Ms Jones were in the thoughts of the university community, as well as their families, friends and colleagues and those “who lived through the horror of that attack and the trauma of its aftermath”.

He said: “A year ago our university community was shocked, horrified and profoundly saddened by the senseless attack at an event hosted by the Learning Together programme.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the recent rise in the national terrorism threat level and an increase in online extremism are “reminders that challenges lie ahead”, but assured the public that police are “working harder than ever to counter that threat and keep Londoners safe”.

He said: “On the first anniversary of the terror attack at Fishmongers’ Hall and London Bridge, we will be taking the time to stop, reflect and remember the two innocent people who lost their lives – Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones – and the principles they stood for and the hope they inspired.

“They will forever be in our thoughts, as will the families and friends of all those affected.”

Usman Khan in 2008 (BBC News/PA)

Ms Jones’s mother said she had “no doubt that it would be Saskia’s wish to concentrate on the positives and continue with her efforts to make a change in the world”.

She said she will therefore be working with the UK government to take into account dissertation research her daughter did with Rape Crisis in Cambridge as part of its ongoing review looking at how rape and sexual violence are handled across the criminal justice system.

Work will also be undertaken to create an annual award for sexual violence liaison officers in universities who work to tackle sexual violence on campus, she said.

Ms Jones’s mother said the family aims to work with Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge to create a PhD scholarship in her daughter’s name.

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