Both London Bridge stabbing victims named as University of Cambridge graduates – CNN

Both London Bridge stabbing victims named as University of Cambridge graduates - CNN
London knife attack victims remembered for commitment to justice, helping underdogs
Three of the five people who were killed or wounded in the London stabbing attack were former Cambridge University students or staff members who had gathered for an event designed to connect graduate students with prisoners to study criminology, police and the university said Sunday.

The two fatalities were identified as Saskia Jones, 23, and Jack Merritt, 25, who had already been named by his family as having died in the attack Friday near London Bridge.

The attack brought a somber tone to a rancorous election campaign, which is presenting voters with a stark choice between Labour, with its promise to raise taxes on the rich and businesses to fund a much expanded state, and the Conservatives’ pledge to “get Brexit done” and move on to other issues. (Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

"Both were graduates of the University of Cambridge and were involved in the Learning Together program — Jack as a co-ordinator and Saskia as a volunteer," police said.

People hold down a man who had stabbed a number of people, on the London Bridge, in London, Britain, November 29, 2019 in this still image obtained from a social media video. HAND LUGGAGE ONLY via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. ORG XMIT: LNDB001

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Started five years ago, the program was designed to bring Cambridge University graduate students together with prisoners to study criminology in an effort to reduce stigma and marginalization experienced by many inmates.

Corbyn said Conservative cuts to community policing and to probation, mental health, youth and social services could “lead to missed chances to intervene in the lives of people who go on to commit inexcusable acts.”

The three attack survivors were not named. Officials said one was released from hospital Sunday and the others are in stable condition.

Less than two weeks before Britain heads to the polls, law and order has taken top billing since Usman Khan, wearing a fake suicide vest and wielding knives, killed two people on Friday before being shot dead by police.

Saskia Jones's family described her as having "a great passion for providing invaluable support to victims of criminal injustice, which led her to the point of recently applying for the police graduate recruitment program."

Merritt's family said: "Jack lived his principles; he believed in redemption and rehabilitation, not revenge, and he always took the side of the underdog."

He portrayed his rival for prime minister, Jeremy Corbyn, as weak on crime, blaming the Labour Party for a law passed more than a decade ago that provided for some prisoners to be released early automatically.

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The gathering where the attack broke out had been meant to celebrate the fifth year of the program, said university vice-chancellor Stephen Toope.

Khan’s attack, which took place on London Bridge, stirred memories of the last election in 2017, when three militants killed eight people and injured at least 48 in the same part of the capital.

"What should have been a joyous opportunity to celebrate the achievements of this unique and socially transformative program, hosted by our Institute of Criminology, was instead disrupted by an unspeakable criminal act," he said.

“I absolutely deplore the fact that this man was out on the street, I think it was absolutely repulsive and we are going to take action,” he told BBC interviewer Andrew Marr.

The attacker, Usman Khan, was apparently attending the event and had returned for the afternoon session when he started stabbing people. Police believe he acted alone.

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Khan was a convicted terrorist who had secured early release from prison. He was shot dead by police after he was restrained by civilians. Police opened fire after he flashed what looked like a suicide vest, but it was a fake device.

Regardless of who is to blame, it is clear that setting Khan free before his sentence was concluded put the public at risk at a time when the official terrorism threat level had recently been lowered because of a perceived reduction in the risk of jihadis returning from Syria to Britain to launch attacks.

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Dr. Vin Diwakar, medical director for the NHS in London, said doctors are dealing with the survivors' physical injuries, but that it may be weeks before the mental trauma can be assessed.

"The psychological impact of such events sometimes only comes to light in the days and weeks afterwards," he said.

Police have said that Khan appears to have been in compliance with the conditions governing his release, which weren’t made public, but nonetheless was able to carry out a deadly assault that didn’t rely on sophisticated weaponry or detonation of an explosive device.

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Officials say about 74 people fit this category. Conditions typically including the wearing of an electronic device that allows police to track a person’s movements, a curfew, limitations on internet use and smartphone use, and reporting on a regular basis to police.

LONDON — Three of the five people who were killed or wounded in the London stabbing attack were former Cambridge University students or staff members who had gathered for an event designed to connect graduate students with prisoners, police and the university said Sunday.

After a one-day pause out of respect for victims, Friday’s attack is dominating the political scene as the Dec. 12 election nears, shifting the focus, at least for the moment, from Brexit and the National Health Service to issues of security and criminal justice.

The two fatalities were identified as Saskia Jones, 23, and Jack Merritt, 25, who had already been named by his family as having perished in the attack Friday near London Bridge.

“Either he’s incompetent and doesn’t know the law, or he’s deliberately misleading people when we’ve got a tragedy on our hands, and I’m afraid, either way, it does not look good for the prime minister,” Davey said.

"Both were graduates of the University of Cambridge and were involved in the Learning Together program — Jack as a co-ordinator and Saskia as a volunteer," police said.

Started five years ago, the program was designed to bring graduate students together with prisoners to study criminology in an effort to reduce stigma and marginalization experienced by many inmates.

The accuracy of Johnson’s claim was challenged by Ed Davey, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, who told Sky News that the prime minister was misleading the public about the current law regarding the early release of prisoners.

Jones family described her as having "a great passion for providing invaluable support to victims of criminal injustice, which led her to the point of recently applying for the police graduate recruitment program."

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Merritts family said he "lived his principles" and "believed in redemption and rehabilitation, not revenge, and he always took the side of the underdog."

“He lit up our lives and the lives of his many friends and colleagues, and we will miss him terribly,” the statement reads. Jack lived his principles; he believed in redemption and rehabilitation, not revenge, and he always took the side of the underdog.”

The attacker, Usman Khan, was apparently attending the event and had returned for the afternoon session when he started stabbing people. Police believe he acted alone.

Khan was a convicted terrorist who had secured early release from prison. He was shot dead by police after he was restrained by civilians. Officers opened fire after he flashed what looked like a suicide vest, but it was a fake device.

His family says he was an “intelligent, thoughtful and empathetic person” who was looking forward to building a future with his girlfriend, Leanne, and building a career helping people in the criminal justice system.

One of those who was wounded was a university staff member. The three survivors were not named. Officials said one was released from a hospital Sunday, and the others were in stable condition.

The gathering had been meant to celebrate the fifth year of the program, university Vice Chancellor Stephen Toope said.

“Jacks passion for social and criminal justice was infectious,” she wrote. “He was deeply creatively and courageously engaged with the world, advocating for a politics of love.”

"What should have been a joyous opportunity to celebrate the achievements of this unique and socially transformative program, hosted by our Institute of Criminology, was instead disrupted by an unspeakable criminal act," Toope said.

Some people at the event, including prison staff and former prisoners, put their lives in danger to restrain the attacker until police arrived, officials said.

In a statement provided to police, Merritt’s family said he was a “beautiful, talented boy” who “died doing what he loved, surrounded by people he loved and who loved him.”

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Loraine Gelsthorpe, director of the universitys Institute of Criminology, said "they worked together selflessly to bring an end to this tragedy and to save further lives."

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British media reports indicate that the group included a convicted murderer who was on a day-release program at the time. Police and university officials have not confirmed the account.

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Doctors are dealing with the survivors physical injuries, but it may be weeks before mental trauma can be assessed, said Dr. Vin Diwakar, medical director for the NHS in London.

"The psychological impact of such events sometimes only comes to light in the days and weeks afterwards," he said.

In these undated family photos issued Sunday Dec. 1, 2019, by Londons Metropolitan Police, Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt, who have been formally identified by the police as the two people who died following a terror attack at London Bridge, are pictured. (Family photos / Londons Metropolitan Police via AP)