Sussex MPs pay tribute to Sir David Amess who died after stabbing attack at his Essex constituency surgery
Sussex MPs have paid tribute to a Parliamentary colleague who has died after a stabbing attack in Essex last week.
Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, was attacked on Friday (15 October) at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea.
The incident happened at his constituency surgery.
Essex Police confirmed in a statement that a man had been arrested on suspicion of murder and a knife had been recovered from the scene.
It is not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident.
Andrew Griffith, MP for Arundel and South Downs, said: “I find it hard to comprehend that Sir David Amess MP – a man whom I have known for 30 years - has been taken from us so violently and characteristically whilst serving his constituents. It is an immensely sad moment and parliament will be the poorer for his absence.”
Nick Gibb, MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, added: ”Like most people, I was devastated when I heard about Sir David Amess’s appalling murder. I have known David for over 30 years and considered him a good friend. He was someone who took a keen interest in other people, regularly asking about my family. He was a supportive colleague always with a cheery smile.
“I have long argued for a more civil approach to politics. Politicians, commentators and journalists all need to use moderate and respectful language. We need to ensure social media doesn’t incite hatred. We need to take this moment to change the way we conduct our political discourse, with greater understanding of opposing views even if we disagree with them.
“Sir David Amess will be missed by every Member of Parliament and all of us feel deeply for his wife and family and for the terrible loss they have endured. We all need to make sure our Parliamentary democracy is protected from such a catastrophe happening again.”
Crawley MP Henry Smith tweeted: “Devastating to hear that Sir David Amess was murdered earlier.
“Less than a month ago he kindly co-sponsored an animal welfare bill I was presenting and was a fellow Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation Patron.
“A terrible loss to Parliament, Essex and decency in public life.”
Tim Loughton, East Worthing and Shoreham MP, added: “I have no idea who on earth wanted to commit such appalling violence against my friend & colleague Sir David Amess or why but I do know that he was one of the best and nicest in the House, respected and genuinely liked on all sides and this senseless killing leaves us all numb.”
Chichester MP Gillian Keegan said: “Absolutely heartbroken alongside many of my colleagues. Sir David was simply the loveliest man who went out of his way to be kind and encouraging to all MPs irrespective of views or political party. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family. He was the best, RIP.”
Lewes MP Maria Caulfield added: “Absolutely devastated at the news about David. He was an absolute mentor to me and I was so proud he asked me to join him on his virtual book tour launch in May for ‘Ayes and Ears’. We caught up at conference last week to discuss the Dame Vera Lynn memorial. He was just the best.”
Sally-Ann Hart, Hastings and Rye MP, said: “I am deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the violent death of my colleague, Sir David Amess.
“My thoughts and prayers are with all of his family and friends at this devastating time. Rest In Peace Sir David.”
Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell described in her e-newsletter how she was still reeling from Sir David’s ‘violent and cruel death’ and could only imagine the agony of his family.
She had worked closely with him on fire safety after the arson attack at Shinewater School.
She added: “Kind is the description most often applied to him and so he was. When I lost the election in 2017 he reached out to me and wrote the most beautiful letter which I treasured, even then. I had the most joyful welcome from him when I returned at Christmas in 2019. He touched many lives and we’re sure to learn more today.”
A man was jailed back in 2017 for making death threats against the Eastbourne MP and she said it was ‘getting harder to say that these events are one in a million when it’s been two in five years’.
She has written to the mayor of Leigh on Sea to express the town’s solidarity as there are still many in Eastbourne and Sussex who remember former MP Ian Gow with great affection.
Ms Ansell added: “They remember where they were when they heard the news of his murder, in some cases, they remember where they were when they heard the car bomb explode. It rocked our community just as it has theirs.
“I will be reviewing my own security measures with the police and my team, that’s given, but with a mind set on protecting the relationships and the connections I have with the local community. This is vital for me to represent our interests in Parliament and give the support I can to individual constituents.”
Nus Ghani, Wealden MP, added: “A real gent. Sir David was insightful, kind, generous with his time for others and loved taking care of his constituents.
“Sir David was funny and if he ever caught me low, he would crack some remark and have us laughing. We will miss him. My prayers and love to his family, from mine.”
Worthing West MP Sir Peter Bottomley, Father of the House, said: “The death of Sir David Amess is of great heartbreak.
“As I walked out of the House of Commons this afternoon, having heard of the terrible news of my friend’s killing, I walked past the memorial to PC Keith Palmer.
“On the Labour side of the Commons Chamber is a memorial to Jo Cox, fatally attacked during the referendum. There are similar memorials to Conservative MPs killed by the IRA during The Troubles. I have known each of them personally. Each is of immeasurable grief.
“Airey Neave, Rev. Robert Bradford, Sir Anthony Berry and Ian Gow. Jo Cox and Sir David Amess. We remember their service, their dedication and what they brought to our nation.
“We should not forget the Liberal MP’s caseworker, Andy Pennington, who was fatally injured too.
“I expect that hundreds of MPs will continue to have constituent advice sessions this weekend, next weekend, and on into the future. Mine certainly will.
“This shouldn’t happen but it has happened.
“People need to be vigilant and diligent. If the question is asked: ‘Should MPs have better protection?’ our answer would be that we come in the middle of the pact. The most vulnerable are mental health workers, clergy, police, health service staff, shop keepers and public transport workers.
“They expect to go on serving the public, so do we as MPs. As we continue to do our duties, we may need to be careful. We go on doing our duty.”
Jeremy Quin, MP for Horsham, said: “The news of the death yesterday of Sir David Amess is deeply shocking. He died as he lived, serving his local community.
“Sir David was the most lovely, kind man.
“I have never heard an unkind word said of him, nor he ever utter one.
“As a new MP he was one of the first to meet us and to offer to help in any way he could.
“He was totally and utterly committed to fulfilling his role and serving those he represented.
“Having had the privilege of replying to one of David’s parliamentary speeches he combined charm and good humour with an absolute determination to achieve his objectives, rooted in his devotion to Southend and his strongly held faith.
“He will be very much missed across the House and our thoughts are with his wife, family and team, especially those with him when this awful attack took place.”
Mid Sussex MP Mims Davies said: “Absolutely numb and heartbroken. Our friend Sir David Amess MP was a truly, lovely and special man. A huge champion for Southend. It’s beyond belief.
“We absolutely adored David. All our love and prayers are with his family and we are devastated for them
“I greatly thank constituents for the many kind and thoughtful messages I’ve received and the deep condolences which I will convey to David’s family and team.Let’s all be kinder. Let’s disagree better. Let’s all do our best for our community working together-just like David showed us.”