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Tributes paid to Sir David Amess MP

15 October 2021

Alamy

Armed police officers outside the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Sir David Amess MP was stabbed and killed at a constituency surgery

Armed police officers outside the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Sir David Amess MP was stabbed and kill...

THE Archbishops of Canterbury and York have paid tribute to the MP for Southend West, Sir David Amess, who died on Friday after being stabbed in Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, during a constituency surgery.

The police have arrested a 25-year-old man, and say that they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack.

Archbishop Cottrell said: “I had the great honour of calling David Amess a friend when I was Bishop of Chelmsford. He was the MP for the constituency where I grew up, and not only did he always faithfully serve those people and that place, but had a particular concern for the Christian community born of his own deeply held Christian faith as a member of the Roman Catholic community.

“It is shocking that someone so dedicated to his community and public service was the victim of such violence as he went about his elected duty.

“It is hard to make sense of the horror of what has happened this afternoon but he and his family and those he loved are in my prayers.”

Sir David, a father of five, entered Parliament in 1983 as Conservative MP for Basildon, switching to his present constituency in 1997. He was an active member of the Catholic Legislators’ Network. Its organiser, Chris Whitehouse, on Friday described Sir David as a gentle man “exuding charm and genuine compassion in equal measure. Parliament, his party, and his family are all poorer for his passing.”

Archbishop Welby said that he was “truly devastated” by the news of Sir David’s death. 

“The death of a father, husband, and friend is agonisingly painful for those who loved him,” he said. “The murder of an MP, in the course of caring for his constituents, is a deep blow to this country, its citizens, and everyone who desires a peaceful and flourishing democracy.

“Sir David Amess dedicated his life to championing causes he believed in, serving constituents and his country for almost 40 years as a Member of Parliament. He was a devout Roman Catholic whose deep faith fuelled his sense of justice. We are richer for his life, and we are all poorer for his untimely death. We hold his family and loved ones in our prayers, that they might feel the comfort and peace of the Christ who suffers with us.

“The only antidote to violence and hatred is love and unity. In this horrific and tragic moment, we must come together, across political difference, and be the light that refuses to be cowed by darkness.”

The RC Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, wrote: “I pray for the repose of his soul, and for his family and constituents who grieve for him. May he rest in peace.”

Stephen Timms MP, who was stabbed during a surgery in 2010 (Interview, 30 July), wrote on Twitter that he was appalled at the news.

Dr Brendan Cox, widower of Jo Cox MP, who was murdered in 2016 (News, 24 June 2016), wrote: “Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself. There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets.”

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, said: “This is devastating news. Sir David was a loyal servant to the people of Southend for many years. The tributes we have already seen are testament to the high esteem in which he was held by many of his constituents. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his staff.”

The Bishop of Bradwell, Dr John Perumbalath, added that “Sir David was a great friend of the Church and it was a privilege to work alongside him in service to the people of Southend whom he cared about deeply.”

A joint statement by the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Sonia Hicks and Barbara Easton, described Sir David as “well known to the Methodist family locally and widely respected. We offer our deep condolences to his family, colleagues, friends, and constituents. This senseless act of violence is appalling, and we extend our prayers to all who have been affected by it.”

A statement from St Clement’s, the main Anglican church in Leigh-on-Sea, said: “This is such bad news. Sir David was such a nice man, good, kind, accessible, incredibly hard working.”

Among political tributes, the Prime Minister said that Sir David had an “outstanding record of passing laws to help the most vulnerable. . . David was a man who believed passionately in this country and in its future. We’ve lost today a fine public servant and a much-loved friend and colleague.”

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, wrote: “He was a lovely, lovely man and a superb parliamentarian.” The Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab, described Sir David as “a great common sense politician and a formidable campaigner with a big heart, and tremendous generosity of spirit — including towards those he disagreed with.”

The Communities Secretary, Michael Gove, described the news as “heart-breakingly sad”. Of Sir David, he said: “He was a good and gentle man, he showed charity and compassion to all, his every word and act were marked by kindness.”

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, said: “This is an incident that will send shockwaves across the parliamentary community and the whole country.” He said that he would review the safety of MPs in the coming days.

The Leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, said that it was “a dark and shocking day”.

He continued: “Informed by his faith, David had a profound sense of duty, that I witnessed first-hand in Parliament. His Catholicism was central to his political life, within the Church, and within the Christian community.

“Let us come together in response to these horrendous events. We will show once more that violence, intimidation, and threats to our democracy will never prevail over the tireless commitment of public servants simply doing their jobs.” 

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