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'Hero' stabbed trying to protect murdered MP Jo Cox dies

Bernard Kenny was stabbed trying to save MP Jo Cox's life. Credit: SWNS

The family of Jo Cox have paid tribute to the "true hero" who was stabbed trying to protect the MP from her murderer, after he died aged 79.

Former miner Bernard Kenny was seriously injured as he intervened when right-wing extremist Thomas Mair attacked Mrs Cox in his home village of Birstall, West Yorkshire, in June 2016.

He was later awarded the George Medal for his bravery - the highest possible civilian honour.

His son Phil Kenny, 58, confirmed that his father died on Monday morning.

Mrs Cox's sister Kim Leadbeater described Mr Kenny as a "shining example of Yorkshire bravery" in a tribute made on behalf of the whole family.

Bernard was a true hero and a shining example of Yorkshire and British bravery.

He restored our faith in humanity and we will be forever grateful for the attempt he made to intervene when Jo was killed.

Our thoughts and love are with Doreen, Phil and the whole Kenny family and with Bernard's many friends at this time.

– Kim Leadbeater
Jo Cox's widower Brendan Cox said Mr Kenny 'personified the best of our country'. Credit: PA

Writing on Twitter, Brendan Cox said: "Bernard Kenny was a hero, he personified the best of our country; risking his own safety to help others. Our thoughts and love are with his family."

Following his death, Mr Kenny was described as "brave and selfless" by Tracy Brabin, who was elected MP for Batley and Spen after the death of Mrs Cox.

At Mair's trial at the Old Bailey, the jury heard that the pensioner was waiting for his wife outside the library in Birstall when he saw Mair going "berserk".

He said in a statement to police: "I thought if I could jump on to the back, I could take him down.

"I thought he was thumping her until I saw the blood. I saw he had a knife in his hands. It was what I call a dagger. The blade was about nine inches.

"Just as I got short of him, he turned around and saw me. He shoved the knife in and it hit me in the stomach. The blood started pouring out between my fingers. I saw the blood and I thought 'Oh my God'."

Mr Kenny described Mair's actions as a "pure act of evil".

Jo Cox was just 41 when she died doing the job she loved. Credit: SWNS

After the attack, more than 80,000 people signed an online petition calling for Mr Kenny to be awarded the George Cross for his bravery.

Mr Kenny, who shared a birthday with Mrs Cox, worked as a miner for 40 years and is a former member of the Gomersal Mines Rescue team which tried to save victims of the Lofthouse mine disaster in 1973.

Neo-Nazi Mair was given a whole life sentence for the murder of Mrs Cox, and was also found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Kenny and possession of a gun and dagger.

Tracy Brabin, who was elected MP for Batley and Spen after the death of Jo Cox, has described have-a-go hero Bernard Kenny as "brave and selfless".