London Bridge attack: victim named as Jack Merritt – as it happened

Last modified: 07: 05 PM GMT+0

What we know so far

Here’s a recap of what we know so far.

  • The attack started just before 2pm on Friday at Fishmongers’ Hall, at the north end of London Bridge, where a prisoner rehabilitation conference was underway.
  • 28-year-old Usman Khan, who was attending the conference, stabbed five people, before moving onto the bridge where he was restrained by members of the public and shot by police.
  • Two people were killed, a man and a woman. The man has been named as 25-year-old Jack Merritt, the course coordinator for Learning Together, a programme run by the University of Cambridge’s institute of criminology, which was running the event. Three people, a man and two women, are injured and remain in hospital.
  • A convicted murderer was among ex-prisoners and members of the public who grappled with the attacker. One man was armed with a fire extinguisher and another – identified in reports as Polish chef Łukasz – wielded a 5ft narwhal tusk taken from Fishmongers’ Hall.
  • Among those who pinned down the attacker was James Ford, 42, who is also thought to have tried to save the life of a woman who had been stabbed. He was jailed for life in 2004 for the murder of 21-year-old Amanda Champion.
  • British Transport police have confirmed that a man in a suit filmed running away from the scene with a knife taken from the attacker was one of their officers in plain clothes.
  • Usman Khan was previously jailed for an al-Qaida inspired plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange and was wearing an electronic tag at the time of the attack. He released from jail on licence in 2018, half way through a 16-year sentence.
  • Khan’s lawyer told the Guardian that his client had asked for help to be deradicalised while he was in prison.
  • Police have searched properties in Stoke, where Khan was from, and Stafford. They have said that there is no evidence anybody else was involved.
  • Isis claimed that the attack was carried out by one of its fighters, though it provided no evidence.
  • Politicians have sought to blame each other for the fact that Khan was able to stage the attack after being convicted on terrorism offences. Home secretary Priti Patel blamed it on legislation brought in by the previous Labour government, while shadow home secretary Diane Abbott pointed to a lack of resources.

More from Nosheen Iqbal in Stoke:

Outside Khan’s family home, where his parents lived, nobody was answering the door but half a dozen young Muslim men were gathered in the cold, rebuffing reporters from the BBC and Daily Mail.

“Why are they hanging here?” Mahmood, a taxi driver, was incensed by the group. “They’re just hanging about in the streets and when they’re hanging about like that people think they’re gangs. Then they act like gangs and get into drugs and extremism,” he speculated.

“These are awara boys, awara means loafer, layabout, good for nothing. That’s one problem with young boys when they leave school and have no hope in life. It makes some of them easy to brainwash into drugs and extremism – they are both the same thing to me. Dangerous. Bad. If you’re taking drugs or a criminal, it’s easier to become an extremist I think.”

Two streets down, Mr Rehman, who has children the same age as Khan, said locals were still processing what had happened. “Yesterday, this was something that happened in London. It wasn’t until 2am that people found out in the news that there were links to Staffordshire; when I woke up, [reports] said Khan had come from here? No he didn’t, he wasn’t living here.” The community wasn’t in denial, he said, but everyone was feeling “very sensitive”.

How was the community feeling towards the Khan family? “Look, it’s shameful,” he said. “But people feel sorry for the family. No one wants to get involved and put any blame on the parents, everyone knows it’s not their fault. Some kids become uncontrollable, what are they supposed to do?”

The Khan family originate from Mirpur, in Azad Kashmir, which has grown to become the largest city in the region and is known as “Little England” – much of the modern buildings, several storey homes and restaurants in recent decades have been built by the British Mirpuri expat community.

Isis says it carried out attack

Islamic State has said that the London Bridge attack on Friday was carried out by one of its fighters, though they did not provide any evidence.

The group’s Amaq news agency reported that the attack was made in response to Isis calls to target countries that have been part of a coalition fighting the jihadist group.

More from Nosheen Iqbal in Stoke-on-Trent:

Mohammed Pervez, local councillor for the Moorcroft ward where Khan’s parents live, was dealing with a questions from residents when we met in the street.

Everyone is shocked. Our heart goes out to the people affected by this horrific attack, and we are all upset but for one, this person has not been in this community or connected to this community for over a decade now. To my knowledge, he hasn’t been back here. He was forgotten in effect until the incident. He has nothing to do with us and we didn’t know he had been released from prison.

Rabeea, a teaching assistant who was carrying groceries from Costcutter, couldn’t understand how a close neighbour could have been involved in the terror attack.

Yes, this is a socially deprived area in some ways but you can’t talk about that because it sounds like an excuse for this person and there is no excuse. He has committed such an haraam act, but what can his parents do? You can’t blame them – some of that generation are in a funny middle ground where they don’t listen to their parents or the elders. They use their rights and freedoms to tell them that they can’t be told what to do. They don’t listen.

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, has tweeted that the government “need to listen to police chiefs who say a lack of resources to policing and the criminal justice system puts us all in danger”.

“We need the proper resources to monitor convicted terrorists,” she said.

Govt need to listen to police chiefs who say a lack of resources to policing and the criminal justice system puts us all in danger. We need the proper resources to monitor convicted terrorists.

— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) November 30, 2019

Observer reporter Nosheen Iqbal has been speaking to people in Stoke-on-Trent.

At zuhr prayers on Saturday lunchtime outside a small white and green mosque in Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent, dozens of men and women in puffa jackets, heavy coats and kurtas gathered in the car park, unable to fit into the single storey building for the funeral taking place inside. “One of our community elders has passed, it’s a massive death,” explained a young, softly-spoken man in his twenties who didn’t want to give his name. He grew up with Usman Khan, whose family live in a terraced cul-de-sac around the corner.

The congregation was unusually subdued, making the street eerily quiet. “He grew up in our ends, we grew up on the same streets, we know every single one of his brothers and sisters, his mum and dad, we went to primary school and high school with him.”

A murmur of disquiet rippled among the older parents behind him, who asked their community to be left alone. “It’s a difficult time and nobody wants to talk about it to journalists because we don’t want to be associated with what happened in London,” said the young man apologetically. “We don’t understand how [Khan] ended up like this. How can you have a person who went to prison for extremism and terror and then he’s let out and he’s got a tag on and ends up back in London to do this? How? Why?”

Updated

Home Secretary Priti Patel has blamed the previous Labour government for the fact that Usman Khan was free to carry out the attack at London Bridge.

Patel took to Twitter to respond to Labour’s Yvette Cooper, who had posted a series of tweets asking how the London Bridge attacker could have been released when he was deemed so dangerous.

The Home Secretary responded:

Because legislation brought in by your government in 2008 meant that dangerous terrorists had to automatically be released after half of their jail term. Conservatives changed the law in 2012 to end your automatic release policy but Khan was convicted before this.

Patel then posted a link to a news article and tweeted: “The Parole Board could not be involved in this decision [Jeremy Corbyn]. Your party changed the law in 2008 so that Khan was automatically released irrespective of the danger he posed. Very concerning that you want to be PM but don’t understand this.”

The Parole Board said it had no involvement in his release and that Khan “appears to have been released automatically on licence” halfway through his sentence.

Because legislation brought in by your government in 2008 meant that dangerous terrorists had to automatically be released after half of their jail term. Conservatives changed the law in 2012 to end your automatic release policy but Khan was convicted before this. https://t.co/8fCm880MSK

— Priti Patel (@patel4witham) November 30, 2019

The Parole Board could not be involved in this decision @jeremycorbyn. Your party changed the law in 2008 so that Khan was automatically released irrespective of the danger he posed. Very concerning that you want to be PM but don’t understand this.https://t.co/uqUBggmEbg

— Priti Patel (@patel4witham) November 30, 2019

Government holds emergency Cobra meeting

Downing Street said government officials, police and security officials held a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee on Saturday afternoon. A spokesperson said that the prime minister would receive further updates from security officials this evening and tomorrow morning.

The BBC has this clip of Usman Khan speaking after his address was raided by anti-terror police in 2008. He later admitted being involved in a terrorist conspiracy.

Khan denies that he is a terrorist, saying he is “born and bred in England”. “All the community knows me and they will know, if you ask them, they will know. These labels that they will put on us like terrorist ... they will know. I ain’t no terrorist,” he says.

Usman Khan speaking to the BBC in 2008.
Usman Khan speaking to the BBC in 2008. Photograph: BBC News

Police say no evidence anybody else was involved in attack

Met assistant commissioner for specialist operations, Neil Basu, has been speaking to the press outside New Scotland Yard. He said there was no evidence that anybody else was involved in the attack.

At this time we have found no evidence, no evidence to suggest that anybody else was involved in this attack. However, we’re still making extensive enquiries to make sure nobody else was involved.

Usman Khan was under the MAPPA – multi-agency public protection arrangements – at the time and “there was an extensive list of licence conditions”, said Basu. “To the best of my knowledge he was compliant with those conditions”.

He said police had carried out two searches in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

The attack started just before 2pm in Fishmongers’ Hall yesterday, said Basu. “The attacker, whose identity we confirmed last night, stabbed a number of people inside the building and as a result five people have suffered injuries. Three people, a man and two women, are injured and remain in hospital.”

He repeated that a man and a woman had been killed in the attack. “Of course I am fully aware that the media and social media have named one of those victims. You must understand that I have to wait for formal identification from the coroner, but I will provide you with an update as soon as I can,” he said.

Basu said that the attacker was attending the event, called Learning Together, before he stabbed a number of people. He then left the building and went onto London Bridge, where he was pursued and detained by members of the public, as well as a plain clothed officer from the British Transport Police. Armed officers from both the City and Met polices then shot the attacker.

He was wearing what “looked like a very convincing explosive device”. “Thankfully we now know that was a hoax device,” he said.

Assistant commissioner for specialist operations, Neil Basu.
Assistant commissioner for specialist operations, Neil Basu. Photograph: Assistant commissioner for specialist operations, Neil Basu

Updated

My colleague Molly Blackall has been at the scene of the attack today.

Tony Fitzgerald, 50, walked past the TV cameras stationed at the base of the bridge carrying a bunch of flowers. “There’s only one bunch of flowers other than my bunch,” he said, visibly upset. “Where is everyone? I thought it would be packed with flowers, but you can’t see anyone. I’ve come all the way from Essex to be here, I couldn’t sleep last night because it makes me sick.”

Imams left the first bunch of flowers at the site early this morning, and later joined Fitzgerald at the bridge where they shared an embrace. “When we arrived this morning, there were no flowers, nothing,” Mansoor Clarke said. “We thought it’d be appropriate that for an act done in the name of Islam, we were the first to lay flowers.”

His fellow imam, Sabah Ahmedi, said: “The word Islam actually means peace, so when you have a Muslim terrorist, it’s an oxymoron because it translates to peaceful terrorist.“We wanted to stand in solidarity with Londoners, and really the whole of humanity, and we’ve found a community here in our shared grief,” he added.

Fitzgerald said: “My family are Irish, and Irish people shouldn’t be blamed for the IRA, so why should Muslims be blamed for this?”

Sabah Ahmedi and Mansoor Clarke, imams of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, pray to mourn the victims at the scene of a stabbing on London Bridge.
Sabah Ahmedi and Mansoor Clarke, imams of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, pray to mourn the victims at the scene of a stabbing on London Bridge. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters
Floral tributes close to London Bridge following Friday night’s attack.
Floral tributes close to London Bridge following Friday night’s attack. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP via Getty Images

Updated

Condition of critically injured victim has improved

NHS chief executive, Simon Stevens, has said that the condition of a London Bridge victim who was critically injured has improved. “While three people remain in hospital, this means two are now stable and a third has less serious injuries,” he said.

While the NHS is now dealing with immediate physical injuries, the psychological impact of such events sometimes only comes to light in the days and weeks afterwards. Those caught up in the attack - supported by their friends and loved ones - can access NHS advice and support, in the first instance through calling NHS 111 and the NHS website and from specialist services if needed.

Updated

British Transport police have confirmed that a man in a suit filmed running away from the scene with a knife taken from the attacker was one of their officers in plain clothes.

We are able to confirm that a serving British Transport Police officer was involved in yesterday’s terror incident on London Bridge in the City of London. The officer, who was in plain clothes and who is based in London, helped other members of the public in detaining the suspect and preventing any further killings. He is seen in social media videos, holding a knife and walking away from the scene as City of London firearms officers arrive.

The Metropolitan police service have asked that his image be pixelated, and we are kindly asking the public and media to respect this request and not identify the officer in any way.

Our thoughts are with everyone who was affected by the dreadful attack at #LondonBridge.

We can confirm a plain clothes BTP officer was involved in detaining the suspect, thankfully he was not injured.

More here 👉 https://t.co/iizDpGiNXj pic.twitter.com/2XK7TfI2qP

— British Transport Police (@BTP) November 30, 2019

Chief constable Paul Crowther from British Transport Police, said:

This morning I spoke with the British Transport Police officer who bravely ran towards danger yesterday afternoon. The courageous actions he took when faced with the horrors of this attack are remarkable. He, as well as other members of the public, should be extremely proud of what they did to stop this man on London Bridge.

Updated

You can read the whole story about the comments from Usman Khan’s lawyer here.

Lawyer Vajahat Sharif said Khan, whom he last spoke to in March, was released to a bail hostel from where he had to report to a police station every day, had interactions with the probation service and had to wear a tag.

In prison he begin to realise his Islamic thinking was not correct; he accepted that. He criticised the al-Qaida ideology and violent extremism. He did recognise that his Islamic understanding was incomplete. A lot of these characters pick and choose from different sermons, it’s like an echo chamber.

Sharif said the policy for terrorist prisoners needed to change to boost efforts to turn them away from supporting ideologies that incite violence: “There is a flaw in the policy. You should have substantial ideological evaluation of these individuals before they are released on licence.”

Updated

In a series of tweets, Jack Merritt’s father warned that he did not want his son’s death to be used as an excuse to introduce “more draconian” sentences. He wrote:

My son, Jack, who was killed in this attack, would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily. R.I.P. Jack: you were a beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog.

[...] Cambridge lost a proud son and a champion for underdogs everywhere, but especially those dealt a losing hand by life, who ended up in the prison system.

First victim named as Jack Merritt

One of the victims has been named in reports as Jack Merritt, who worked as a co-ordinator for Learning Together, a prisoner rehabilitation initiative run by the University’s Institute of Criminology, which organised the conference at which the attack started.

Cambridgeshire Live is quoting from a tweet, sent by Merritt’s father, David, in which he pays tribute to his son. “You were a beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog,” he said.

Updated

City of London police have released a statement from the commissioner, Ian Dyson.

A statement has been released from Commissioner Ian Dyson:

“It is with great sadness that I find myself speaking again about a tragic terrorist attack in the City.

"As in 2017, I must praise the actions of members of the public – in Fishmongers' Hall and on the bridge"

— City of London Police (@CityPolice) November 30, 2019

who courageously fought with the attacker and apprehended him. I am also proud to praise the
professionalism and speed shown by the City of London police officers who arrived first at the scene and shot the suspect, without a thought for their own safety.

— City of London Police (@CityPolice) November 30, 2019

“We continue to work closely with colleagues in the Metropolitan Police to return the City back to normal and we thank you for your patience over the coming days."

— City of London Police (@CityPolice) November 30, 2019

"You’ll notice more officers on the streets in the Square Mile and across London, as we seek to reassure you that we’re doing everything in our power to keep London safe.”

— City of London Police (@CityPolice) November 30, 2019

Updated

In a statement at the scene, Sadiq Khan said that London Bridge was set to stay closed for “some time” while investigations and forensic tests took place, reports Molly Blackall. The mayor of London confirmed that one of the injured was in critical condition.

Khan said that police thought the attacker was acting alone, describing the attack as “not sophisticated”. He said he was proud of the “ordinary people who acted in extraordinary ways”, describing them as the “best of us, and the best of humanity”.

“There are many reasons to be depressed and gloomy, but every day miracles occur,” he said, praising the “amazing heroism”, with people “using their initiative regarding weapons to de-weaponise the man who had two knives”.

“The members of the public and police who intervened had no idea whether the device [the attacker was wearing] was real, or what other weapons he had,” he added.

Khan insisted that while the terror threat level had been taken down to ‘substantial’, meaning a terror attack was likely, that “didn’t mean the police or others were any less vigilant”.

Responding to speculation over the nationalities of the members of the public who apprehended the attacker, he confirmed that one was a Londoner of Polish origin. “One of the great things about London is its diversity, so I’m not surprised at all. When I say ‘the best of us’, I include EU citizens as well.”

The mayor said London was “getting back to business as usual” and praised people carrying on with day-to-day life, saying it was great to see so many people in “bustling” Borough market.

Updated

Former chief prosecutor, Nazir Afzal, has said the government was repeatedly warned of the risk posed by convicted terrorists being released from prison while still radicalised. Writing on twitter, he said he had spoken to Boris Johnson on 30 June 2016 at a 50th anniversary function at Brunel University, in Uxbridge, west London, where he is an MP.

He asked me what keeps me awake at night and I told him it was this issue. When he wanted to know what to do about it, I told him it was more resources for one-to-one deradicalisation. Back then, he hadn’t found the ‘money tree’ so he frustratingly said there was no money [...]

The problem of those convicted for terrorist-related offences being released from prison whilst ostensibly rehabilitated but still radicalised was one that many of us raised in meetings with this government over the past few years.

Radicalised prisoners will not change their mind set with traditional rehabilitation and I don’t see any major strategy to alter that reality. We are in danger from several men who have served their sentence but remain fixated on doing us harm. We may have missed the time for action, I sincerely hope not.

I don’t normally share private conversations but forgive me as it’s now relevant

On June 30th 2016 at the Brunel Uni 50th anniversary function, the local MP Boris Johnson asked me “what in the justice system keeps me awake?”

Me - “lack of money”

Him - “apart from that” pic.twitter.com/4Y3NcPGrgk

— nazir afzal (@nazirafzal) November 30, 2019

I said “that terrorists from a decade ago were due to be released still radicalised”

Him “is there anything we can do about that?”

Me “it’s resources for one to one mentoring and deradicalisation”

Him “but that’s money again”

Me “sorry nothing else will do”

Him “got to go” pic.twitter.com/yRAGk0ANka

— nazir afzal (@nazirafzal) November 30, 2019

A convicted murderer was among ex-prisoners and members of the public who grappled with and eventually grounded the London Bridge knife attacker before police arrived, Sarah Marsh reports.

Among those who pinned down the attacker was James Ford, 42, who is also thought to have tried to save the life of a woman who had been stabbed. Ford was jailed for life in 2004 for the murder of 21-year-old Amanda Champion.

Ford, who is understood to be serving the final days of his sentence at HMP Standford Hill, an open prison in Kent, was on London Bridge as the attack unfolded.

Updated

Johnson: practice of automatic early release 'isn't working'

The prime minister has been speaking to journalists on his visit to the scene. He said he had “long said” that the system of automatic early release wasn’t working:

Obviously it’s early days and there’s a lot of investigations that need to be done. But it is clear to me that this guy was out, he’d served half of his sentence. He was out on automatic early release and I have long said that this system simply isn’t working. It does not make sense for us as a society to be putting people convicted of terrorist offences, of serious violent offences, out on early release.

I’ve argued that when people are sentenced to a certain number of years in prison they should serve every year of that sentence.”

Asked about reassuring the public that they are safe if other convicted terrorists are out on licence, the prime minister said: “Well I can tell you that we’ve had a long discussion already today about all those cases and a great deal of work is being done right now to make sure that the public is protected.”

Updated

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, is at London Bridge. He said: “Yesterday we saw ordinary people acting in extraordinary ways.”

Updated

ITV News has a letter written by the attacker from jail, asking to take part in a deradicalisation course. He wrote:

I would like to do such a course so I can prove to the authorities, my family and soicity (sic) in general that I don’t carry the views I had before my arrest and also I can prove that at the time I was immature, and now I am much more mature and want to live my life as a good Muslim and also a good citizen of Britain.

The Met commissioner, Cressida Dick, has been speaking to journalists at the scene.

It is a terrible thing to see where people lost their lives and there was so much devastation and carnage. Rest assured our teams are incredibly professional. They have all of the equipment and skills they need to find out exactly what happened here and indeed what lead up to the events here yesterday ...

She said police would be in the area of the attack for some time to come, but that they were doing their best to open roads and that London Bridge station was open.

Yesterday we saw “the most extraordinary courage” from members of the public, she said. “It was a terrible thing that people found themselves in that position, but as we saw the worst of human kind, we also saw the very best of human spirit and of London.”

She repeated that they believed the attacker was acting alone.

Met commissioner Cressida Dick speaking to broadcasters.
Met commissioner Cressida Dick speaking to broadcasters. Photograph: Cressida Dick speaking to broadcasters/Sky News

Updated

Attacker asked for help to be deradicalised

The London Bridge attacker had asked while in prison for help to be deradicalised, his solicitor has said. Vajahat Sharif told the Guardian that Usman Khan had come to see violent extremism as wrong and had accepted his understanding of Islam was deficient.

Sharif told the Guardian:

He requested intervention by a deradicaliser when he was in prison. The only option was the probation service and they cannot deal with these offenders. He asked me on the phone to get assistance from a specific deradicaliser.

He asked (me) once or twice before he was released in 2018. Probation do a good job with conventional offenders but they can’t deal with ideological offenders.

The full story will be up soon.

Updated

The man who used a narwhal tusk to apprehend the attacker has been named in media reports as Łukasz, a chef from Poland who worked in Fishmongers’ Hall.

The Times has named the man who grabbed a narwhal tusk and ran at the terrorist as “Luckasz”, a chef from Poland who worked in the hall’s kitchen.https://t.co/qlJKZYfsoN https://t.co/YOsaVHcqpe

— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) November 30, 2019

The prime minister and home secretary have visited the scene of the attack. Boris Johnson and Priti Patel met with Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, and City of London police commissioner, Ian Dyson, inside the police cordon shortly after 11.30am. They then accompanied the police chiefs in a walkabout of the area.

Home secretary Priti Patel and prime minister Boris Johnson attend the scene at London bridge.
Home Secretary Priti Patel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson attend the scene at London bridge. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA
Met commissioner, Cressida Dick, with the home secretary and prime minister.
Met commissioner, Cressida Dick, with the home secretary and prime minister. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters
Boris Johnson speaking to Met commissioner Cressida Dick.
Boris Johnson speaking to Met commissioner Cressida Dick. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

The BBC has agreed to allow the prime minister to appear on tomorrow’s Andrew Marr Show, in light of yesterday’s terrorist attack. The broadcaster previously said it would not offer Boris Johnson a slot on Marr unless he agreed to be interviewed by Andrew Neil, as the Labour party leader was earlier this week. Here’s some background.

The Prime Minister will be interviewed on tomorrow's Andrew Marr programme. Statement here. pic.twitter.com/BfICt0hNbT

— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) November 30, 2019

Dal Babu, former Met police chief superintendent, has called for an urgent review of the resources available to monitor convicted terrorists.

The terrorist attack on London Bridge demonstrated the worst and best in society. This cowardly individual sought to kill indiscriminately, but brave Londoners alongside the police prevented further deaths because of their swift actions. They are truly heroes.

Fundamentally, a lack of resources to policing and the criminal justice system puts us all in danger. We need to carry out an urgent review of the resources available to monitor convicted terrorists by the police and security services, including what impacts privatisation has had on the probation service.

Updated

Usman Khan was previously convicted of terror offences, including plotting to attack the London Stock Exchange in 2010. He was part of a gang of nine extremists from Stoke-on-Trent, Cardiff and London who were sentenced in February 2012 at Woolwich crown court. You can read the judge’s sentencing remarks here. Here is a key passage:

In my judgment they are more serious jihadis than the others ... They were intent on obtaining training for themselves and others whom they would recruit and, as such, were working to a more ambitious and more serious jihadist agenda.

In my judgment, these offenders would remain, even after a lengthy term of imprisonment, of such a significant risk that the public could not be adequately protected by their being managed on licence in the community, subject to conditions, by reference to a preordained release date. In my judgment the safety of the public in respect of these offenders can only adequately be protected if their release on licence is decided upon, at the earliest, at the conclusion of the minimum term which I fix today.

Updated

In a statement, the Queen has said:

Prince Philip and I have been saddened to hear of the terror attacks at London Bridge. We send our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones and who have been affected by yesterday’s terrible violence.

I express my enduring thanks to the police and emergency services, as well as the brave individuals who put their own lives at risk to selflessly help and protect others.

The PA news agency has been speaking to residents living near a flat in Stafford believed to have been occupied by the London Bridge attacker.

Retired police officer Justin Lightfoot, who lives in a nearby street, said he instantly recognised Usman Khan when a friend showed him a photograph on Saturday morning.

The only thing I’ve seen is him just walking past my house. I’ve seen his picture this morning online and when I saw that obviously I recognised him. A friend showed me the picture and as soon as I saw it, I recognised him straight away.

It’s just frightening when somebody lives so close to you - you don’t know what’s going on so near to your home.

He added:

I’ve seen him for probably the last three or four weeks. Whether he was there longer or not I don’t know. When I came home from work last night I saw the police here between half four and five o’clock. There was a couple of police cars, a police car across the road.

I had this feeling it might be something to do with that (the London Bridge attack) and then when I heard it on the radio last night and it said Staffordshire and then Stafford... it’s just frightening.

Usman Khan was likely to be considered a low to medium risk, priority-three target for Britain’s intelligence agencies, reports the Guardian’s defence and security editor, Dan Sabbagh.

MI5 characterises the individuals it monitors in four categories, with priority one applying where there is “credible and actionable” intelligence of attack planning. Priority three individuals are those where “further action is needed to determine where a threat exists”.

The majority of individuals released from prison after having served time for terror offences are placed in this category, and the reality is they are largely a matter for probation services, because there is not the resources - or necessarily the justification - to keep an intense focus on such people.

Intelligence investigators will now be focusing on Khan’s phone, email, as well as his home and any other key locations, in order to determine whether he had any associates or connections that spurred him on to the deadly attack. The working hypothesis is that Khan was a lone actor, who decided to act with little pre-planning, but that is far from settled as investigations continue.

Such lone actors are notoriously difficult for the intelligence agencies to spot - a marked contrast to the more typical plots of a decade ago, where individuals would prepare in advance, seeking direction, perhaps travelling abroad as Khan himself did at the beginning of the decade, making them easier to disrupt.

Updated

Some more on that Sky News report that the attacker had links to Anjem Choudary, who co-founded the now banned Al-Muhajiroun group. The broadcaster reports:

Usman Khan was one of a series of Al-Muhajiroun connected terrorists to be released over a six-month period beginning in the autumn of 2018. He was known to have attended a series of Al-Muhajiroun protests and street stalls in the Midlands area prior to his arrest.

In the months before his arrest and conviction for the London Stock Exchange terror plot, police raided his home in Tunstall, Staffordshire, over concerns about his links to Choudary. At the time of his arrest, investigators found Choudary’s phone details on Khan’s mobile phone.

Updated

A counter-terrorism specialist has described the criminal justice system as playing “Russian roulette” with the public, after it was revealed the London Bridge attacker had been released from jail after being convicted of terror offences.

Chris Phillips, a former head of the UK National Counter Terrorism Security Office, told the PA news agency:

The criminal justice system needs to look at itself. We’re letting people out of prison, we’re convicting people for very, very serious offences and then they are releasing them back into society when they are still radicalised.

So how on Earth can we ever ask our police services and our security services to keep us safe? I’ve said it a few times today, we’re playing Russian roulette with people’s lives, letting convicted, known, radicalised Jihadi criminals walk about our streets.

Updated

Reports attacker had links to Anjem Choudary

Sky News is reporting that the attacker was “a student and personal friend” of the radical preacher Anjem Choudary.

Choudary was released from prison last year after serving half of the five-and-a-half-year sentence he received in 2016 for urging support for Isis and pledging allegiance to the terrorist group.

Sky News understands 28-year-old Usman Khan who has been identified as the suspect in the London Bridge terror attack was a student and personal friend of the Islamist extremist Anjem Choudary

— Sky News Breaking (@SkyNewsBreak) November 30, 2019

Updated

The Metropolitan Police has renewed its call for anybody with information to come forward, particularly anyone who was at Fishmongers’ Hall.

The attacker – 28-year-old Usman Khan – attended Fishmongers’ Hall on Friday for a University of Cambridge-organised conference on rehabilitating offenders.

#APPEAL | Detectives investigating the attack near #LondonBridge are appealing for anyone with any information to come forward.

In particular, officers would like to speak to anyone who was at Fishmongers’ Hall yesterday.

📞 0800 789 321 in confidence if you have any info. pic.twitter.com/HLvfYJmCHH

— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) November 30, 2019

Three members of the public, including one armed with a fire extinguisher and another a five-foot narwhal tusk, grappled with and eventually grounded the London Bridge knife attacker before police arrived, reports my colleague Sarah Marsh.

Footage has emerged showing people at the scene surrounding the attacker, who is eventually pinned to the floor. One man sprays him with a fire extinguisher before trying to hit him with it, while another approaches him with a narwhal tusk, lunging at him with it. It is believed the item was pulled from the wall of Fishmongers’ Hall.

This makes me exceptionally proud to be British. pic.twitter.com/WS9W4s3H1z

— Martin Shapland (@MShapland) November 29, 2019

Read the full story here:

Craig Heathcote was walking across the bridge as the attack happened. “I was on the east side of the bridge, walking across it – heading to the supermarket on my lunch break. A man appeared in front of me and started screaming that there was someone with a knife, then I realised something was happening,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He said it took a while to process what was going on, but he could see what looked like a “big scuffle happening” and what felt like “hundreds of people screaming” on the bridge.

“The police were not yet there so I called 999 as I felt no one else was [calling them] … While I was on the phone I think a car appeared. It was either the first response or by chance a car driving across the bridge, someone jumped out and waved them down. Two armed officers jumped out and took over situation,” he said.

Updated

The security minister, Brandon Lewis, has also been speaking to broadcasters this morning.

Speaking to Sky News, he refused to comment on the specifics of the attack, but said more assessment was needed of the sentences given to violent criminals.

We take what action we need to do and we believe is right under the advice of the police and look at all of the lessons learned from any case as quickly as we can to ensure people’s safety.

He said it would be “inappropriate and dangerous” to speculate on how the attacker had been able to arm himself even though he was on licence from prison.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said:

I think it is right that we do have to look again at the sentences, as I say, around these violent crimes. The prime minister has ... made that point previously and made it very clearly last night. We will want to move very swiftly because our first priority is the safety of people around the country.

Updated

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, has been speaking to broadcasters.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “you can’t disaggregate terrorism and security from cuts made to resources of the police, of probation, the tools that judges have”. He said armed police patrols would be stepped up in the capital over the coming days.

The key thing is we need to support the police and security service. And of course politicians can’t use trite words and trite language after a terror attack. The key thing is to remind ourselves of two things.

First is yesterday we saw the very best of Londoners, but also, secondly, we’ve got to make sure the right lessons are learnt. You can’t disaggregate terrorism and security from cuts made to resources of the police, of probation, the tools that judges have. It’s all linked.

He told Sky News that he did not think someone convicted of serious offences should be automatically released.

'I don't think it's right that someone convicted of a serious offence like terrorism should be automatically released' says @SadiqKhan

The London Bridge killer Usman Khan was convicted terrorist recently freed from jail. #Ridge

For more on #LondonBridge: https://t.co/0JeDUJinn7 pic.twitter.com/zblEVIIlLD

— Sophy Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) November 30, 2019

Updated

Here are some photographs of the three-storey block of flats in Stafford in the West Midlands that is being searched by police following Friday’s attack.

Police officers standing guard outside a building in Stafford.
Police officers standing guard outside a building in Stafford. Photograph: Matt Cooper/PA
Police outside block of flats in Stafford.
Police outside block of flats in Stafford. Photograph: Matt Cooper/PA

Updated

The Press Association reports from the scene –

Police tape and a large cordon remain in place around the London Bridge area on Saturday morning.

A blue forensic tent has been erected at the junction of Cannon Street and King William Street, next to the entrance of Monument station.

The station entrance remains closed as officers patrol the area.

Forensic officers work at the scene of a stabbing on London Bridge.
Forensic officers work at the scene of a stabbing on London Bridge. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters

Updated

Parole Board says it had 'no involvement' in release of attacker

The Parole Board has issued a statement saying it had no involvement in the release of London Bridge attacker Usman Khan.

Parole Board statement on London Bridge attack on Friday 29 November 2019. https://t.co/BXpVtcoal8 pic.twitter.com/gNV5ACi6cd

— The Parole Board (@Parole_Board) November 30, 2019

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has said that flags on UK government buildings will fly at half-mast on Saturday as a mark of respect to those who lost their lives and those who were affected by the attack.

Updated

Summary of what we know so far

  • The London bridge attacker has been identified as Usman Khan. He was previously jailed for an al-Qaida inspired bomb plot. Scotland Yard were investigating the 28-year-old, who was known to the authorities and fitted with an electronic tag to monitor his movements. He was allowed out a year ago after serving time for his part in a plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange.
  • A police search believed to be linked to the London Bridge investigation is being carried out at a three-storey block of flats in Wolverhampton Road, Stafford, close to the town centre. A police photographer and search teams entered one of two doors at the front entrance, while two uniformed officers were present at a cordon outside the building.
  • The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has argued that more resourcing is needed for the policy, saying “you can’t disaggregate terrorism and security from cuts made to resources of the police, of probation, the tools that judges have”. He said there would be an increased police presence on the streets in the wake of the attack to reassure members of the public
  • Security minister Brandon Lewis refused to say whether the attack on London Bridge showed a failure by authorities. He repeatedly refused to comment on the specifics of the incident, but said that more assessment was needed of the sentences given to violent criminals.

Updated

Welcome to the Guardian’s live blog on the London bridge attack. We will be giving you regular coverage and updates on the situation.

A police search believed to be linked to the London Bridge investigation is being carried out at a three-storey block of flats in Wolverhampton Road, Stafford, close to the town centre.

A police photographer and search teams entered one of two doors at the front entrance to the block on Saturday morning, while two uniformed officers were present at a cordon outside the building.

Contributors

Frances Perraudin and Sarah Marsh

The GuardianTramp

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