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Police ‘prevented Catholic priest from giving murdered Tory MP Sir David Amess his last rites’

A Roman Catholic priest has accused police of preventing him from giving Conservative MP Sir David Amess his last rites as he lay dying in his Essex constituency.

Father Jeffrey Woolnough arrived at the police cordon stretching across tree-lined Eastwood Road North in Leigh-on-Sea, offering to administer the last rites to the devout Catholic, 69, on Friday afternoon after he was allegedly stabbed multiple times by a suspected terrorist. 

But he told the Mail: ‘The officers said that because it was a crime scene, and also the nature of the scene, it just wasn’t possible.’ MailOnline has contacted Essex Police, which responded to reports of the initial incident before Scotland Yard launched an investigation, for comment.

At a service at Saint Peter’s Church in Eastwood Lane on Friday evening, Father Woolnough called Sir David ‘Mr Southend’ and described the MP as a ‘fine gentleman and a knight of the realm’ who was much loved by all members of the community.  

Father Jeffrey Woolnough

Father Jeffrey Woolnough (right) has accused police of preventing him from giving Conservative MP Sir David Amess (left) his last rites as he lay dying in his Essex constituency

People attend a Catholic mass conducted by Father Jeff Woolnough at St Peter's church in Eastwood, Essex, following the death of Conservative MP Sir David Amess who was stabbed multiple times at a meeting with constituents in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

People attend a Catholic mass conducted by Father Jeff Woolnough at St Peter’s church in Eastwood, Essex, following the death of Conservative MP Sir David Amess who was stabbed multiple times at a meeting with constituents in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

People during a candlelight vigil at Belfairs Recreation Ground near to Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

People during a candlelight vigil at Belfairs Recreation Ground near to Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

Make Southend a city: Calls for Essex resort’s status to be upgraded in honour of murdered MP David Amess after his decades-long campaign 

MPs are calling for Southend-on-Sea to be given city status in honour of a 21-year campaign by Conservative MP Sir David Amess, who was killed in a suspected terror attack on Friday.

Since the year 2000, Sir David had relentlessly pushed for the Essex resort to be upgraded – most recently arguing that it would help attract some much-needed investment post-Brexit and Covid.

Now following his tragic death, colleagues from both sides of the aisle are demanding his wish be granted, arguing it would be a ‘fitting memorial’ for the 69 year old.

It comes as The Queen is set to designate new cities in celebration of her Platinum Jubilee next year, and local authorities have been putting forward their towns for city status since June.

Conservative MP for Kingswood Chris Skidmore said: ‘David would badger me constantly about making Southend a city.

‘Not only did we exchange many letters, had meetings, every time I saw him in the tea room or passed him in the corridor he would shout out ‘don’t forget to make Southend a City’. No opportunity was ever missed.

‘He told me once that it was his one great ambition left in Parliament that he would one day see Southend become a city.

‘It became a running joke every time he raised it, but he was passionately serious about making it happen.’

The church fell silent as Father Woolnaugh paid tribute to the Conservative MP and invited his constituents to remember him. He placed a photograph of Sir David at the front of the church, and said: ‘This liturgy is one I was not expecting to lead today.

‘The whole world grieves. In this Mass we pray for the repose of the soul of dear David.

‘Have you ever known Sir David Amess without that happy smile on his face? Because the greeting he would always give you was that happy smile.

‘He carried that great east London spirit of having no fear and being able to talk to people and the level they’re at. Not all politicians, I would say, are good at that.’

Around 80 people attended the service and listened as Father Woolnough recounted his own memories of Sir David.

He said: ‘When you can speak to your MP and you can talk and get on like a house on fire, that’s when you can talk to them later about things that are important to your area.

‘What can we say? He died doing the thing he loved, meeting his constituents, his local people.’

Father Woolnough added that his constituents could ‘count on’ Sir David, and said: ‘He was always available. We don’t have the words tonight. Dear Sir David, rest well.’

It comes as Sir David’s suspected killer was named for the first time as police were granted more time to question him.

Ali Harbi Ali, named by sources, allegedly stabbed Sir David to death in Belfairs Methodist Church as the backbencher for Southend West met with constituents. The Metropolitan Police have not named the suspect and are not confirming the suspect’s name. 

Police have previously said they are treating the attack as an act of terror, and Scotland Yard said in an earlier statement that they were investigating the possibility of links to Islamist extremism. 

The Metropolitan Police arrested a 25-year-old on suspicion of murder on Friday and counter-terrorism officers have raided three properties in London. It was previously reported that Sir David’s alleged killer had lived in the constituency after his family fled war-torn Somalia in the 1990s. 

Scotland Yard announced tonight that detectives have been granted a warrant of further detention at Westminster Magistrates’ Court which allows them to hold a man on suspicion of the murder of Sir David until next Friday, October 22. 

In a statement, the force said: ‘Late on Friday, whilst in police custody, the man was subsequently further detained under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and he is now being held at a London police station. 

‘On Saturday, detectives were granted a warrant of further detention at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, allowing them to keep the man in custody until October 22, when the warrant expires. 

‘As part of the fast-paced investigation, officers have attended three addresses in the London area and conducted searches. One of these searches has concluded and the others are ongoing. A post-mortem examination has taken place today.’ 

The Met Police confirmed that the killing of Southend West Sir David Amess (pictured) is being treated as a terror incident 'with links to Islamist extremism' as a British man with Somali heritage remains in police custody on suspicion of murder

The Met Police confirmed that the killing of Southend West Sir David Amess (pictured) is being treated as a terror incident ‘with links to Islamist extremism’ as a British man with Somali heritage remains in police custody on suspicion of murder

People during a candlelight vigil at Belfairs Recreation Ground near to Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

People during a candlelight vigil at Belfairs Recreation Ground near to Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

Boris Johnson, Sir Keir Starmer, Priti Patel and Sir Lyndsay Hoyle arrive to the scene of Sir David Amess's killing in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex to pay tribute

Boris Johnson, Sir Keir Starmer, Priti Patel and Sir Lyndsay Hoyle arrive to the scene of Sir David Amess’s killing in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex to pay tribute

‘Free run’ for the Tories: Labour and Lib Dems both WON’T stand a candidate in Southend West by-election after Conservative MP Sir David Amess was murdered, say party sources 

Labour and the Liberal Democrats will not stand candidates in the upcoming Southend West by-election after the killing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess by a suspected terrorist as the veteran politician met with his Essex constituents, it has been claimed. 

Sir David died after he was allegedly stabbed multiple times in Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea yesterday afternoon by a British national thought to be of Somali heritage. 

Police are treating the incident as an act of terror and Scotland Yard said in a statement overnight that its initial inquiries ‘revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism’. 

Labour is set to follow the principle established after Jo Cox’s murder in 2016, when the major parties declined to select candidates in the subsequent Batley and Spen by-election. 

As a result, it is understood Labour will not contest the by-election to find a successor to Sir David. The Liberal Democrats have also confirmed they will not fight for the seat when a date is set. 

Party sources told the Mail on Sunday’s Dan Hodges that Labour will not be fielding candidates in the by-election in Sir David’s constituency. One senior Labour figure told Sky News’ Jon Craig that Opposition parties should give Tories ‘a free run’ in the ballot.

Hundreds of well-wishers including the 69-year-old MP’s constituents, Muslim leaders from Southend’s mosques, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and MPs across the political spectrum have joined in an outpouring of grief following the death of Sir David, a devout Catholic and prominent supporter of Brexit who was first elected to Parliament in 1983. 

It is understood that Labour and the Liberal Democrats will not stand candidates in the upcoming Southend West by-election after the killing of Sir David. 

Labour is set to follow the principle established after Jo Cox’s murder in 2016, when the major parties declined to select candidates in the subsequent Batley and Spen by-election. 

As a result, it is understood Labour will not contest the by-election to find a successor to Sir David. The Liberal Democrats have also confirmed they will not fight for the seat when a date is set. 

Party sources told the Mail on Sunday’s Dan Hodges that Labour will not be fielding candidates in the by-election in Sir David’s constituency, while one senior Labour figure told Sky News’ Jon Craig that Opposition parties should give Tories ‘a free run’ in the ballot.

And Lord Pendry, a Labour former minister, called for all major opposition parties to stand aside in the by-election out of respect for Sir David. He said: ‘This is an occasion when you see the leader of the Opposition (Sir Keir Starmer) and the Prime Minister together, and it shows that our democracy transcends all that sort of thing. 

‘I think we should be saying that whoever the Conservatives put up, it is their seat because they were deprived of it, so they should have it back. I think all the major parties should stand aside in the interest of democracy and our own democratic way of life.’ 

As Sir David’s wife and children grieve privately at home, the MP’s extended family including cousins and second cousins left a note celebrating ‘a great man and member of our family’. 

Outside the scene of the attack, constituents recalled the work the ‘absolutely wonderful’ MP did in his community during his almost 40-year career. Moira and Pat, cousins of Sir David, wrote: ‘Thinking of your lovely family. Can’t believe this has actually happened. Will always love you.’ 

Meanwhile, two vigils have been held. Constituents last night went to St Peters Church in Leigh-on-Sea to shed a tear at the shocking death of their beloved MP and on Saturday afternoon dozens of well-wishers lit candles and gathered to remember the life of Sir David outside the town’s Civic Centre.  

Outside Southend police station, Home Secretary Priti Patel said a ‘balance’ must be struck between the accessibility and safety of MPs as questions are raised over whether face-to-face meetings should be held in constituencies in the future.  

Southend faith leaders called Sir David’s death an ‘indefensible atrocity’ and described the father-of-five as an ‘upstanding friend to our Muslim community’ who had attended weddings, mosque openings and the launch of the town’s first Muslim Scout group.

In a statement published on the Essex Jamme Masjid website, on behalf of ‘all Southend mosques’, they said their thoughts and prayers were with Sir David’s family, friends and colleagues.

It comes five years after Labour MP for Batley and Spen Jo Cox was murdered on her way to a surgery in 2016. 

Police ‘prevented Catholic priest from giving murdered Tory MP Sir David Amess his last rites’ SourcePolice ‘prevented Catholic priest from giving murdered Tory MP Sir David Amess his last rites’

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