Man charged with murder and terrorism in death of British lawmaker

An image of slain British lawmaker David Amess
An image of slain British lawmaker David Amess is displayed in a church before a vigil in Leigh-on-Sea, England.
(Alberto Pezzali / Associated Press)

British prosecutors Thursday charged a 25-year-old man with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the death of a member of Parliament who was fatally stabbed as he met constituents in a church hall last week.

Prosecutors said Ali Harbi Ali, a British man of Somali heritage, had “religious and ideological motivations” when he allegedly attacked David Amess, a lawmaker with the ruling Conservative Party, last week in the town of Leigh-on-Sea in eastern England.

The slaying shook a nation accustomed to face-to-face contact with its politicians, heightened concerns about extremism and rattled British politicians, who say they face increasing levels of vitriol and abuse as they perform their jobs.


Ali made a brief appearance at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday and was ordered detained until his next hearing. He smiled to his legal team as he entered the court and spoke only to confirm his name, age and address.

Ali was not asked to enter a plea at the hearing, which lasted less than 15 minutes.

Nick Price of the Crown Prosecution Service said the murder “has a terrorist connection, namely that it had both religious and ideological motivations.”

The fatal stabbing of British lawmaker David Amess has cast fresh doubt on the continued viability of parliamentarians readily meeting voters.

Oct. 16, 2021

Matt Jukes, the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations, said the force “will continue to build our case.” He said detectives had analyzed computers, searched several London addresses and reviewed CCTV footage as part of the investigation.

“It remains the case that no other arrests have been made, and at this time we are not seeking anybody else in relation to this incident,” he said.

The death of Amess, who had served in Parliament for almost 40 years and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015, escalated security concerns among Britain’s politicians, who pride themselves on being accessible to their constituents.

British politicians are protected by armed police when they are in Parliament but generally are not given such protection in their home districts.


A London police officer is sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a woman whose death caused a nationwide uproar.

Sept. 30, 2021

Home Secretary Priti Patel told the House of Commons on Wednesday that intelligence officers had upgraded the threat level for politicians from “moderate” to “substantial,” though she said there was no “specific or imminent threat.”

A special session of the House of Commons on Monday resounded with appeals to force social media giants to do more to prevent the spread of the online hate that has poisoned political discourse.

The slaying came five years after Labor Party lawmaker Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death by a far-right extremist. Cox was the first British lawmaker to be killed since a peace accord ended large-scale violence over Northern Ireland almost 30 years earlier.

Amess, 69, was a social conservative who opposed abortion, campaigned for animal rights and strongly supported Britain’s exit from the European Union. He was well-liked even by his political opponents for his civility, good humor and commitment to his constituents in the seaside constituency of Southend West, 40 miles east of London.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hoped Amess’ loved ones would “get the justice they deserve as fast as possible.”

“What we must not do is be intimidated by this appalling murder into changing the way we conduct our parliamentary business or the way we work in our constituencies,” he said, “which I think is the last thing that David Amess would’ve wanted.”