MP Sir David Amess: Prime Minister visits scene as police confirm fatal stabbing was terrorism

ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent reports from Leigh-on-Sea, on a day devoted to honouring Sir David's legacy

The Prime Minister and leader of the opposition have visited the scene where Conservative MP Sir David Amess was fatally stabbed in a terrorist incident on Friday.

Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer were joined by Secretary Priti Patel and Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle as the political leaders lay wreaths at the MP's constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea.

Police have confirmed the Southend West MP's death is being treated as a terrorist incident and said there was “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism”.

This is now officially designated as a terror attack - what do we know about the suspect so far?

Sir David was holding a surgery at the Belfairs Methodist Church, in Eastwood Road North on Friday afternoon when, according to reports, the knifeman launched the attack.

A 25 year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and a knife was recovered from the scene.

Essex Police had initially said they had arrested a foreign-born man, but they've since back-tracked and confirmed the suspect is British.

What we know so far:

  • The Southend West MP was fatally injured at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex at midday on Friday and died at the scene.

  • Essex Police said the response of the emergency services to the incident was immediate and officers arrived at the scene within minutes.

  • A 25-year-old man was arrested immediately at the scene on suspicion of murder and remains in custody.

  • Metropolitan Police declared the incident an act of terrorism, with early investigations revealing “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism”.

  • Police said a knife was recovered.

  • Detectives are not looking for any other suspects, though the Met said officers were carrying out searches at two addresses in the London area as part of their investigation.

Sir David had been a Member of Parliament since 1983, starting by representing Basildon before moving to Southend West in 1997.

Tributes have poured in from across the political divide with the PM saying on Friday night all our hearts are filled with "shock" and "sadness".

Sir Keir Starmer said "there is a profound sense of loss across politics, across faith and up and down the country."

The country's political leaders arrive in Leigh-on-Sea to pay tribute to MP Sir David Amess

The Labour leader said Sir David was "so respected and so liked" across parliament.

On Saturday, Home Secretary Priti Patel described him as "a man of the people" adding "to me, he was a dear and loyal friend".

"He was a devoted husband and father and we think of Julia and their children at this really sad time," Ms Patel told broadcasters.

What's now being done to keep MPs safe?

On the issue of MPs' safety, as one politician called for a temporary halt on face-to-face meetings, the home secretary said a balance could be found between the democratic process and the security of MPs

"We cannot be cowed by any individual or any motivation … to stop us from functioning," she said.

Ms Patel has ordered an immediate review of MPs’ security after meeting with police and representatives of the security and intelligence agencies on Friday.

She said she would provide "updates in due course" on what the government response will be.

Police are in the process of contacting all MPs to check on their security in the wake of Sir David's death.

ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand reported on Saturday that officers are also asking MPs about their whereabouts so they can collect information on their movements and what safety measures to take.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle said that he had spoken to both Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel following the fatal stabbing of the MP at his constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea.

While acknowledging some colleagues may cancel or postpone their in-person constituency meetings, Sir Lindsey said he was pressing on with his as it was the best way to communicate with the electorate.

He said "democracy must always survive" and that MPs must be protected in that spirit while carrying out their duties.

"There is a void in the house, there is a void in my life now. He was a great friend to us all."

It's the latest in a series of violent attacks on MPs

The attack is the latest in a string of violent attacks on MPs, which includes the 2016 murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

She was killed while on her way to hold a surgery with constituents in Batley and Spen.

In May 2010, East Ham MP Stephen Timms was stabbed twice in the abdomen by Roshonara Choudhry, an Islamic extremist who claimed she had wanted "to get revenge for the people of Iraq".

Nigel Jones, then MP for Cheltenham, was severely injured in January 2000 when he was attacked in his offices by a man with a sword.

Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councillor, was killed in the same attack while trying to defend the then-MP.

And in 1990 Conservative MP Ian Gow was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army.