Priti Patel ‘supports’ plan for Harper’s Law, widow Lissie says

Lissie Harper described her meeting with the Home Secretary as 'positive and constructive'. Credit: Martis Media

The widow of Pc Andrew Harper said she was encouraged by her meeting on Wednesday with Home Secretary Priti Patel to harness support for her Harper’s Law campaign.

Lissie Harper met the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC to put her case for a new law meaning those who kill emergency workers are jailed for life.

Mrs Harper told ITV News she was "feeling really positive" following the 45-minute meeting and said Ms Patel and her team had been "really behind us". It comes after half a million people signed an online petition backing the “vital and urgent” law change within a week of it being set up in response to the jail terms handed down to three teenagers responsible for 28-year-old Mr Harper’s death.

"Meeting Priti Patel was always our goal at this point and she's been really encouraging about the support that they are happy to give us," she said.

"They are going to go away now and speak to lawyers and people who know about this sort of thing to get the ball rolling which is just want we want." Mrs Harper also wants life sentences to be applied in cases where someone is convicted of killing an emergency services worker - regardless of whether they intended to cause a death.

"These are the people that go out and do their jobs, put themselves at risk and in danger. "They're doing that to protect us,"Mrs Harper said of emergency workers. "If we can do one thing we can give them that protection which may act as a deterrent for these criminals."

Lissie Harper, accompanied by Sgt Andy Fiddler (right), met Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC and Home Secretary Priti Patel. Credit: Martis Media

Mrs Harper, 29, was contacted by the Home Office last week to arrange a face-to-face meeting with Ms Patel.

She was accompanied by her husband's Thames Valley Police Federation colleague Sgt Andy Fiddler.

“I wanted to sit down with the Home Secretary and describe to her how it feels to look the people responsible for my husband’s death in the eye, knowing that they show no remorse for their actions and knowing that they will be released into the world once more to return to their lives of crime," she said.

“I told Ms Patel and Mr Buckland in no uncertain terms my widely held view that the justice system is broken. And that we need Harper’s Law to help fix it. The least we can expect from our justice system is that it ensures criminals who kill those emergency services workers protecting us are given appropriate and substantial prison sentences.“Myself – and I am humbled to say hundreds of thousands of members of the British public – think the current situation is frankly not good enough. And the Home Secretary, the Justice Secretary and their fellow MPs are in a position to do something about it.

Under current law in England and Wales, those convicted of murder are routinely handed life sentences with a minimum term of imprisonment.

Mrs Harper described the sentences her husband's killer received as "disgraceful". In an interview on ITV's Good Morning Britain on Tuesday, Mrs Harper said she was "not surprised" Henry Long, one of three men convicted of the manslaughter of Pc Harper, had applied for permission to appeal against his 16-year prison sentence.

His co-accused, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, have also lodged applications seeking permission to challenge their convictions and their 13-year prison sentences.

"If you take somebody's life, why should you only spend seven or eight years in prison?"

Mrs Harper said her meeting at the Home Office "was the start of the journey to achieving Harper’s Law".

"I will keep going. I will continue to channel my grief to campaign for Harper’s Law," she said.

“The people of Britain are tired of witnessing the leniency of our courts against the evil in our society. The support that we continue to receive from hundreds of thousands of people just highlights the disapproval and outrage over these injustices we all are made to accept.

“Let’s get this changed. This would be a fitting legacy to Andrew.”

She said campaigning for the new law was helping her through her grief. "It gives me a focus and ultimately I'm doing it for him, I'm doing it for his colleagues and the people that protect us. We can't offer them a huge amount of protection but this is something we can do for them," Mrs Harper told ITV News.

  • Lissie Harper told Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid she was 'not surprised' one of her husband's killers was appealing his sentence.

In a blog post at the weekend, she wrote: "Harper’s Law will be a law which will mean that a person found guilty of killing a police officer, firefighter, nurse, doctor, paramedic or prison officer as a direct result of a crime they have committed, then they would be jailed for life.

“This means that a life sentence would be imposed, asking for a minimum term in prison. Details we plan to discuss with politicians and decision makers soon.”

She said the campaign was not calling for whole-life orders, which would see perpetrators jailed without ever being released.

In an interview on ITV's Good Morning Britain, Lissie Harper said she was "not surprised" Henry Long, one of three men convicted of the manslaughter of Pc Harper, had applied for permission to appeal against his 16-year prison sentence.

Lissie Harper has launched a campaign to jail for life those who kill police officers or other emergency workers Credit: Martis Media/PA

Adding that she is "appalled" one of her husband's killers is appealing his "lenient" sentence.

Mrs Harper and her husband had been married for just four weeks when he was caught in a tow strap attached to a getaway car and dragged to his death as he and a Thames Valley Police colleague responded to a late-night burglary in Sulhamstead, Berkshire, in August last year.

Two of Pc Harper’s killers – 18-year-olds Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole – have lodged applications with the Court of Appeal seeking permission to challenge their manslaughter convictions and their 13-year prison sentences.

They were jailed alongside getaway driver Henry Long, 19, who was handed a 16-year sentence, also for manslaughter.

All three were acquitted of murder during a trial at the Old Bailey, but were sentenced for the lesser charge.

The Attorney General Suella Braverman QC has also referred the jail terms to the Court of Appeal to consider whether the sentences were unduly lenient.