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”.
The Football Association will not investigate Forest Green head coach Mark Cooper after it was alleged he made an “unacceptable” jibe about late Leyton Orient boss Justin Edinburgh.
O’s interim manager Ross Embleton was sent off in Saturday’s defeat by Rovers for throwing chewing gum at Cooper.
He claimed Cooper labelled him “an impostor” and asked: “Who do you think you are, Justin Edinburgh?”
Cooper denied the claim and said he was pleased the FA acted “swiftly”.
“I’m pleased the FA have given such a swift and clear statement on this matter,” Cooper said in a statement on Forest Green’s website.
“I can assure everybody that nothing like that was said – it’s wrong that Justin’s name was dragged into this. We’re now focused on a really important game against Crewe Alexandra.”
Embleton was originally placed in interim charge of Orient following Edinburgh’s death in June. He was re-appointed to the post when the club sacked Carl Fletcher earlier this month after just 29 days in charge.
In a statement following Saturday’s match, Forest Green chairman Dale Vince told BBC Sport that Cooper and Edinburgh were “close friends” and both the referee and fourth official had confirmed to the club that neither had heard any such remarks during the game.
Cooper, who has been in charge of Forest Green since May 2016, made no mention of the first-half incident in his post-match interview, in which he described the atmosphere as “hostile”.
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” Svenson 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.
The girl scout 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.
Premiership club Harlequins have appointed Laurie Dalrymple as their new chief executive.
The 44-year-old left Premier League football club Wolves in July following four and a half years at Molineux.
“While I’ve worked in football most recently, rugby has always been my passion,” he told the club website.
“Following an inspiring World Cup, CVC’s investment into the league and a growing supporter base, Harlequins are well placed to capitalise.”
Dalrymple, who served as managing director of Wolves for three years, was previously executive director at the Ricoh Arena and international sales director at global event producer EMAP.
Quins chairman David Morgan said he will bring “a wealth of experience” to The Stoop.
“Laurie helped transform Wolves from a Championship club to an established member of the Premier League,” he added.
“I would again also like to thank David Ellis (Harlequins’ outgoing chief executive) for all his dedication, hard work and achievements over the past eight years.”
Harlequins are 10th in the Premiership table, having won only one of the their first four games of the season.
A major outdoor art exhibition by an Oscar-winning artist has gone on display on billboards across London.
Turner Prize-winner and film-maker Steve McQueen’s billboards show class photographs of thousands of children from the capital’s schools.
The 613 posters across London’s 33 boroughs, featuring Year 3 pupils, celebrates the idea of citizenship and reflects the diversity of London.
McQueen said the project was inspired 21 years ago after he became a father.
“My hope is that through the billboards, millions of Londoners can reflect on the past, the present and the future not only of themselves but of their city,” he said.
“I am very excited that this portrait of London will be seen by so many people as part of their daily life in this great city that I love.”
Some 76,000 children, two thirds of London’s Year 3 pupils, were photographed for the accompanying exhibition at Tate Britain.
The Tate said: “Year 3 is considered a milestone year in a child’s development and sense of identity, when seven-and eight-year-olds become more conscious of a much bigger world beyond their immediate family.
“Steve McQueen’s project captures this moment of excitement, anticipation and hope through the medium of the traditional class photograph, with rows of smiling children sitting or standing alongside their teachers.”
McQueen was born in London in 1969 and after becoming a renowned artist, he went on to make films Hunger, Shame, Widows and the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave.
When he started the project McQueen said: “When you first start education, things start to change. When you start being aware of gender, when you start being aware of race. When you start being aware of class.
“When those things come into your psyche – it can actually change your thoughts forever.”
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On why he chose to express his vision via the traditional school photograph, McQueen said: “The school photo is very formal. Kids are standing or sitting crossed legged with the teacher on the side.
“I used to love that format – and it’s a photo that reflects on that class, the school and also reflects on society.
“So a message that can be so local – when moulded with the other photographs – can become global.”
The death of a woman in a fire in a north London maisonette is being treated as murder, police have said.
The victim was discovered by fire crews on the second floor of the building after they were called to Mingard Walk in Islington at 12:40 BST on Saturday.
A man, thought to be aged in his 30s, is in a critical condition in hospital having been rescued from the property.
The Met said it was treating the blaze as suspicious. No arrests have been made.
Police said formal identification of the woman and a post-mortem examination were due to take place.
About 25 firefighters and four fire engines were deployed to the four-storey block.
Part of the maisonette was damaged in the blaze.
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 wrote that he and dozens of others had been left “standing around” Dublin Airport.
A spokeswoman for Dublin airport said the flight was 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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A man who drove at cyclists and police officers outside Parliament has been jailed for life for attempted murder.
Salih Khater, 30, of Highgate Street, Birmingham, aimed his car at members of the public before swerving towards the officers in Parliament Square on 14 August 2018.
He must serve at least 15 years in jail, the Old Bailey judge said.
Khater was accused of attempting to cause maximum carnage, and it was said to be “miraculous” no-one was killed.
The court was told he tried to “kill as many people as possible” with his Ford Fiesta.
CCTV footage showed how he careered into a security lane and crashed into barriers as two police officers jumped out of the way.
Alison Morgan QC told jurors Khater’s attack was “premeditated and deliberate” and had a terrorist motive.
The defendant claimed he had driven to London to find the Sudanese embassy to get a visa but “got lost” around Westminster and panicked.
However, a jury rejected his explanation for the crash and found him guilty of two charges of attempted murder in July.
In mitigation, Peter Carter QC told the court Khater had still not offered an explanation for what he did.
He argued: “The lack of evidence is not a proper basis for drawing a conclusion there is evidence of a terrorist connection.”
But Mrs Justice McGowan found Khater had deliberately copied terrorists.
“Your undoubted intention was to kill as many people as possible and by doing so spread fear and terror,” she said; adding that he had “replicated the acts of others who undoubtedly have acted with terrorist motives”.
The court heard Khater was born in Sudan before being granted asylum in Britain in 2010, claiming he had been tortured in his birth country.
In the months before the attack, Khater had showed signs of “paranoia” about British authorities, emailing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to express concern about an “event” involving the intelligence services.
Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “This was a man who used his car as a weapon to attempt to kill as many people as possible, spreading fear and terror.
“It was our view that this attack was carried out with a terrorist purpose and the sentence confirms this,” he added.
More than 130 people have been arrested in London at the start of two weeks of protests by environmental campaigners.
Extinction Rebellion activists are protesting in cities around the world, including Berlin, Amsterdam and Sydney.
Organisers have planned to shut down key sites in central London, in addition to demonstrating outside government departments.
Extinction Rebellion claims protests in the capital will be five times bigger than similar events in April.
The protests are calling for urgent action on global climate and wildlife emergencies.
Activists barricaded themselves to vehicles in Westminster early on Monday as the demonstrations got under way.
Police were seen cutting two protesters from a car that had blocked Victoria Embankment, while campaigners also locked themselves to a mock Trident missile outside the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall.
Activists were also pictured on a barge on the Thames, according to BBC reporter, Bruce Thain.
Meanwhile, hundreds of campaigners have filled Trafalgar Square and blocked Lambeth and Westminster bridges.
A string of celebrities including fashion model Daisy Lowe, actress Juliet Stevenson and comedian Ruby Wax, joined campaigners at Trafalgar Square.
Ms Stevenson said the protests were “a very wonderful action”, revealing her son was attending them as a worker for Extinction Rebellion.
She told the Press Association (PA): “We can’t any longer allow governments to do this so we have to make it clear that there is no more time.
“There’s a long tradition in this country of people saying governments are not acting, we have to make them realise how urgent this is.
“I’m optimistic about the energy there is amongst people to act but I’m not hugely optimistic about government stepping up to the plate… We need to make them realise that time is not on our side at the moment.”
On Saturday Ms Lowe, 30, hosted a dinner to “celebrate and be educated” by Extinction Rebellion activists, and encouraged followers to join the protests.
She wrote on Instagram: “It is a terrifying reality we live in, but we have the power to change the course of history and save our planet.”
Sir Mark Rylance, the Oscar-winning actor joined a blockade in the Mall, and said “urgent action” was needed, The Times reports.
He told the newspaper: “We want a much deeper discussion and more urgent action.
“I’m a storyteller and this story dwarfs everything else.”
He added that he would not rule out being arrested, saying it was “worthwhile” for certain things.
“That depends on what situation arose. XR is here because the democratic process has failed.”
“I do think there are things that it’s worthwhile being arrested for and you can look back at many of the things that have changed in the past, people have been arrested.
“Notorious people like me who write letters and be arrested that’s not it, it’s many little changes in people’s hearts.”
In June, Sir Mark resigned as an associate artist at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) over its partnership with BP, which the theatre company has since vowed to end.
Meanwhile, activists from Animal Rebellion, a movement allied to Extinction Rebellion, began marching from Russell Square to Smithfield Meat Market on Monday afternoon.
Organisers said they plan to stage an overnight occupation of the market to share their “vision of a future plant-based food system”.
Fiona Oakes, the world record holding England long-distance runner and vegan campaigner, joined the action.
In an update shortly before 13:00 BST, organisers said several thousand people had blocked locations across Westminster, including Whitehall and the Mall.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said there were 135 arrests in connection with the protests as of 12:30 BST.
Extinction Rebellion said this included Sarah Lasenby, 81, a Quaker and retired social worker from Oxford.
Ms Lasenby, who the group says was part of efforts to block Embankment, said: “It is imperative that the government should take serious actions and put pressure on other states and global powers to radically reduce the use of fossil fuels.”
What is Extinction Rebellion?
2025group’s aims for zero carbon emissions
298,000followers on Facebook
1,130people arrested over April’s London protests
2018year the group was founded
Source: BBC Research
Extinction Rebellion (XR for short) wants governments to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and take immediate action to address climate change.
It describes itself as an international “non-violent civil disobedience activist movement”.
Extinction Rebellion was launched in 2018 and organisers say it now has groups willing to take action in dozens of countries.
In April, the group held a large demonstration in London that brought major routes in the city to a standstill.
Extinction Rebellion organisers say they are expecting up to 30,000 people to take part in the fortnight-long demonstrations in the capital, which form part of an “international rebellion”.
Similar protests in the UK earlier this year brought major disruption to London and resulted in more than 1,100 arrests.
Up to 60 other cities around the world may also be disrupted in simultaneous events, according to a spokesperson for the group.
Activists will call on government departments to detail their plans to tackle the climate emergency.
Police in Australia and New Zealand have already arrested dozens of Extinction Rebellion activists on Monday.
Some 30 campaigners in Sydney were charged with committing offences after hundreds of protesters blocked a busy road.
The latest arrests in London come after the Met police arrested 11 people during the weekend.
A spokesperson for the force said eight people were arrested on Saturday after previously reporting 10. They have all been released under investigation.
One woman and two men were arrested on Sunday on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance. The men remain in custody while the woman has been released under investigation.
More than 1,000 people attended an “opening ceremony” at Marble Arch on Sunday night, which featured meditation and dancing.
Boris Johnson has insisted allegations about his personal conduct are not overshadowing the Tory conference.
Journalist Charlotte Edwardes has accused the PM of touching her thigh, and that of another woman, at a lunch in 1999, which he denies.
Rumours were circulating at conference that Mary Wakefield – who is married to the PM’s chief adviser – was the second woman, but she has rejected that.
The PM said people wanted to hear about his plans to “improve their lives”.
The row erupted after Ms Edwardes’ wrote a column in the Sunday Times on the eve of the Conservative conference in Manchester, describing the alleged incident.
The PM was already facing questions over his ties to a US businesswoman, Jennifer Arcuri, during his time as London mayor – he insists he acted with “full propriety”.
The Conservatives are trying to focus this week on their key conference message – “Get Brexit Done” – and a raft of policy pledges.
In her first column for the paper, Ms Edwardes said the incident took place in 1999. She said she was seated on Mr Johnson’s right at the lunch, held at the Spectator magazine’s offices – he was editor of the magazine at the time.
“More wine is poured; more wine is drunk. Under the table I feel Johnson’s hand on my thigh. He gives it a squeeze,” she wrote.
“His hand is high up my leg and he has enough inner flesh beneath his fingers to make me sit suddenly upright.”
On Sunday evening, No 10 released a statement calling the claims “untrue”, but Ms Edwardes later tweeted: “If the prime minister doesn’t recollect the incident then clearly I have a better memory than he does.”
Asked on Monday if the incident had taken place, Mr Johnson said: “No.”
When it was put to him that the row was overshadowing everything else at the conference, he replied “not at all”.
“I think what the public want to hear is what we are doing to bring the country together and get on with improving their lives,” he added.
Ms Edwardes said another woman at the lunch later told her Mr Johnson had done the same to her.
Spectator magazine commissioning editor Ms Wakefield, who is married to the prime minister’s adviser Dominic Cummings, issued a statement to say she was “not the woman referred to in Charlotte Edwardes’s column”.
“Boris was a good boss and nothing like this ever happened to me. Nor has Charlotte, who I like and admire, ever discussed the incident with me.”
Earlier, ex-Tory minister Justine Greening said Ms Edwardes’ story was “deeply concerning”.
However, Ms Greening told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I can’t comment on those accusations, but they are deeply concerning, and in a sense they go to the heart of this question about character and integrity of people in public life and what standards the electorate have a right to expect.”
Chancellor Sajid Javid, however, backed the PM.
“The prime minister has said that this is completely untrue,” he said. “I have full faith in the prime minister and I don’t doubt that and what he has said for a second.”
On Sunday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “these issues are incredibly important”.
He said he knew Ms Edwardes well and knew her to be “trustworthy”.
Former minister Amber Rudd – who quit the Conservative Party over its handling of Brexit earlier this month – tweeted that she agreed with Mr Hancock’s conclusion.
But Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said, unless further evidence emerged, he would “take [the prime minister] at his word”.
“I don’t have any inside information into this,” he told BBC Politics Live.
“It’s very hard for any of us to speculate on what may or may not have happened.”