SIR David Amess received an “upsetting threat” just days before his murder – after revealing his family paid a “big price” for his high-profile MP job.
The MP for Southend West was knifed during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex on Friday.
The killer of Tory MP Sir David Amess had previously been referred to a Government anti-terror schemeCredit: Getty
Sir David Amess with his wife Julie at daughter Alexandra’s wedding with his other girls as bridesmaids
Cops also found extremist material on the suspect’s phoneCredit: EPA
His killer was described as “dead behind the eyes” after the attack, was on a terror watch list and had extremist material on his phone.
The man being held was last night named as Ali Harbi Ali.
Sir David alerted Essex Police to a “rather upsetting threat” just days before his killer struck – but defiantly went ahead with his face-to-face surgery with constituents regardless.
The threat is unconnected to the murder.
It comes as a recently uncovered clip showed devoted family man Sir David say his wife and five children paid a “paid a big price” to allow him to do his job.
Speaking on an A-Level student’s home-made documentary in 2011, the MP says coping with his high-profile role and the impact on his family life is “very, very tough indeed”.
Sir David spoke about upping his personal security after Jo Cox was shot and stabbed by a far-right extremist in 2016 in his book Ayes & Ears: A Survivor’s Guide to Westminster.
And, up to just a few days before his untimely death, the MP was facing threats, pals have said.
Former Mayor of Leigh-On-Sea and colleague of Sir David John Lamb told the Sunday Telegraph: “The police were alerted about some sort of threat made against Sir David.
“There’s been no threat received through the local Conservative Party offices that I know of, but Sir David had received a threat against him.
“I don’t know the nature of it but it was rather upsetting and the police were alerted. It was in the past few days.”
The devastated cousins of tragic MP Sir David Amess yesterday laid flowers outside the Essex church where he was murdered and wrote “we will always love you”.
His wife Julia and five children have so-far chosen to grieve privately for the devoted family man.
Speaking in a 2011 documentary, Sir David spoke of the burden his job has taken on his loved ones, the Sunday People reports.
He said: “All I will say is, my family has paid a big price for me being a member of Parliament, that bears no doubt.”
Last year, the MP for Southend West wrote that he had “experienced nuisance” from “the odd member of the general public” in his book Ayes & Ears: A Survivor’s Guide to Westminster.
He also admitted he had upped his personal security after Jo Cox was shot and stabbed by a far-right extremist in 2016.
Sir David said the killing was carried out “in the most barbaric fashion imaginable” and he had been advised to avoid meeting constituents alone.
After MP Nigel Jones was attacked with a machete in 2000, Sir David wrote: “We all make ourselves readily available to our constituents and are often dealing with members of the public who have mental health problems, it could happen to any of us.”
Addressing security, the book reads: “We regularly check our locks and many others have CCTV cameras installed but probably the most significant change has been with constituency surgeries.
“The British tradition has always been that Members of Parliament regularly make themselves available for constituents to meet them face to face at their surgeries.
“Now advice has been given to be more careful when accepting appointments.
“We are advised to never see people alone, we must be extra careful when opening post and we must ensure that our offices are properly safe and secure.
“In short, these increasing attacks have rather spoilt the great British tradition of the people openly meeting their elected politicians.”
But pals said the MP – who was called a “true parliamentarian” in touching tributes – “hated Zoom” and would not have wanted to stop meeting people.
In a touching tribute, Ann Widdicombe said: “He hated online. He wanted face to face meetings with his constituents and, even if their problem was the 30th similar case he’d heard that day, he’d attack it relentlessly.”
Sir David had urged his constituents to meet him in person in his tragic last tweet ahead of Friday’s stabbing.
He wrote: “My next constituency surgery will be taking place on Friday 15th October at Belfairs Methodist Church, 251 Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 4NG.”
It was last night revealed that the man being held is Ali Harbi Ali. Witnesses said he appeared “dead behind the eyes” after the attack.
The killer of Sir David travelled 50 miles by train to murder him – and apparently had told the MP’s staff that he had recently moved to the area.
Counter-terror cops believe he boarded a service in London to carry out the lone wolf attack.
He is believed to have waived his right to silence on arrest and is said to have admitted fatally stabbing dad-of-five Sir David 17 times at his constituency surgery at a church hall in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
The suspect had not been on MI5’s “subject of interest” list. But he had been referred to the early stages of the Government Prevent anti-terror scheme.
Cops and security services are examining the theory he was radicalised online during lockdown. And they believe the suspect may have been inspired by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda offshoot operating in Somalia and Kenya.
He had Islamist material on his phone and may have targeted Tory Sir David, 69, because he was a symbol of the British Government. The attack was also linked to a jihadist ideology because of statements the suspect reportedly made to arresting officers.
Yesterday he was being held at a police station in London. Officers can quiz him until October 22. Sources said he lives in North London but had family ties to Southend, close to Leigh-on-Sea. Two addresses in the capital were being searched.
Cops are said to be trying to establish a motive so they can charge him under the Terrorism Act — rather than just murder — leading to the prospect of a whole life sentence if convicted.
Late last night the man being held by police was named as Ali Harbi Ali, 25.
His dad was a senior civil servant in the Somali government. He is thought to have been born in the UK after his family fled the war-torn East African nation in the 1990s.
Dad Harbi Ali Kullane, a former adviser to the prime minister of Somalia, confirmed his British-born son was in custody.
He told The Sunday Times: “I’m feeling very traumatised. It’s not something that I expected or even dreamt of.”
Mr Kullane added he had been visited by anti-terror police.
Security sources told The Mail on Sunday Ali planned his murderous attack more than a week in advance.
An emergency worker called to Friday’s murder scene told how the killer was “dead behind the eyes”. She said: “What I saw was horrific. We knew immediately that David was dead. There was no way anyone was surviving that. It was such a savage attack. People were breaking down in tears because there was nothing anyone could do for him.
“The attacker was already in handcuffs and was sitting on the floor. He was completely dead behind the eyes, staring blankly. And he didn’t say anything.”
A separate witness said the attacker had not made a booking to see Sir David but was ushered in by his assistant after waiting in a side room. The source added: “It was ad-hoc and David agreed to see him. That’s the sort of man he was. He would take bookings from people who just turned up. This person was in the room with his assistant and she saw everything.
“His calmness sitting by the body was unnerving.”
The attacker was already in handcuffs and was sitting on the floor. He was completely dead behind the eyes, staring blankly. And he didn’t say anything.
An emergency worker
Tory councillor Dan Nelson said: “The attacker had been waiting 40 minutes and was not pre-booked.”
It is understood the man was checked in by Sir David’s assistant Julie Cushion who was too upset to comment at her home in the town.
Another assistant Rebecca Hayton, 23, is also said to have witnessed the horror. Her dad Barry said: “She’s very upset and can’t speak. She’s been interviewed by the police.”
The Sunday Times reported that just three minutes before the 12.05pm stabbing Sir David had ended a Zoom meeting with PR man Richard Hillgrove.
They had been discussing the Children’s Parliament for which Mr Hillgrove’s daughter Lola, 11, had been matched with the MP.
Mr Hillgrove saw reports of the murder on TV and said: “I was honoured to have known him. He was such an inspiration.
“His engagement was incredible. He made sense of a crazy world.”
Counter-terror cops believe he may have been inspired by al-Shabaab, an offshoot of al-Qaeda operating in Somalia and Kenya, PM Boris paying a touching tributeCredit: Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing Street
A tribute on a card from No 10 was laid next to flowersCredit: Shelley Williams-Walker / No 10 Downing Street
The killer travelled 50 miles by train to murder DavidCredit: i-Images
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