The father of one of the London terror attack victims is slamming media reports attempting to use his son’s death as “vile propaganda”.
Jack Merritt, 25, a former Cambridge University student and advocate for prisoner rehabilitation, was fatally stabbed in last Friday’s attack, along with fellow student Saskia Jones, 23.
The pair had been attending an event to mark five years of Cambridge University’s prisoner rehabilitation program, Learning Together, of which Jack was course coordinator.
They were killed by Usman Khan, a convicted terrorist who was released from prison in December 2018. Khan, who was wearing a fake suicide vest during the attack, was shot dead by police.
News of Jack’s death was confirmed on Twitter by his father, David Merritt, who urged that his death not be “used as the pretext for more draconian sentences for detaining people unnecessarily”.
However, the Monday papers in the UK – including the Daily Mail and The Express – reported on a “terror blitz”, following orders from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “crack down on extremists” in the wake of the attack.
“Don’t use my son’s death, and his and his colleague’s photos to promote your vile propaganda,” Merritt said on Twitter.
“Jack stood against everything you stand for – hate, division, ignorance.”
Don’t use my son’s death, and his and his colleague’s photos – to promote your vile propaganda. Jack stood against everything you stand for – hatred, division, ignorance. https://t.co/R8LO16lugk
— David Merritt (@butwhatifitsall) December 1, 2019
In a statement, Jack’s family said he “died doing what he loved”.
“Jack lived his principles; he believed in redemption and rehabilitation, not revenge, and he always took the side of the underdog,” the statement said.
“Jack was an intelligent, thoughtful and empathetic person.
“We know Jack would not want this terrible, isolated incident to be used as a pretext by the government for introducing even more draconian sentences on prisoners, or for detaining people in prison for longer than necessary.”
The family of Saskia Jones released a similar statement, remembering her as a “funny, kind, positive influence at the centre of may people’s lives”, who had a passion for supporting victims of criminal justice.
“She had a wonderful sense of mischievous fun and was generous to the point of always wanting to see the best in all people,” the statement said.
“She was intent on living life to the full and had a wonderful thirst for knowledge, enabling her to be the best she could be.
“This is an extremely painful time for the family. Saskia will leave a huge void in our lives and we would request that our privacy is fully respected.”