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London Bridge attack: Vigil in Cambridge, election campaign suspended and minute’s silence planned

A vigil was held at Great St Mary’s Church in Cambridge today (Saturday) as a mark of respect for those affected by the attack at London Bridge yesterday.

Councillors and parliamentary candidates were among those attending, having suspended their election campaigning out of respect for the man and woman killed in the stabbing, and those injured.

University of Cambridge colleges flew their flags at half-mast in respect for those affected by the London Bridge attack on November 29, 2019 (22963056)
University of Cambridge colleges flew their flags at half-mast in respect for those affected by the London Bridge attack on November 29, 2019 (22963056)

A one-minute silence will also be held outside the Guildhall at 11am on Monday, which the public have been invited to join.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “Cambridge is in mourning today for the victims of the incident yesterday at Fishmongers’ Hall and London Bridge. We express our deep sympathies to those who were injured, and to all their families, friends and university colleagues. Those are the only appropriate sentiments today.”

Daniel Zeichner, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Cambridge, called an immediate halt to campaigning in the city.

He said the “murderous attack has shocked everyone”, adding: “It seems to have been targeted on an event being held by the Institute of Criminology in the University of Cambridge, an event focused on rehabilitation.

“We do not yet know the full details, but it will clearly have had a devastating and traumatic effect on people from in and around Cambridge, those organising the event and attending in particular. All our thoughts are with those who have lost their lives and have been injured, and our thanks go to the emergency services and those who intervened at considerable risk to themselves.”

The man and woman were killed, and three injured, when convicted terrorist Usman Khan, 28, attacked just before 2pm on Friday.

His murderous assault began at Fishmongers’ Hall, on the north side of London Bridge, where an event on prison rehabilitation organised by Learning Together, an education initiative set up by the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge, was being held.

The university said it was “gravely concerned” for staff, students and alumni.

Khan had been a guest at the event and was wearing an electronic tag.

Other ex-prisoners attending, including a convicted murderer, were among those who tackled Khan after he went on the attack, threatening to blow up the building while wearing a fake explosive vest.

Police shot Khan dead on London Bridge.

Usman Khan, 28, who was shot dead by police. Picture: West Midlands Police (22951488)
Usman Khan, 28, who was shot dead by police. Picture: West Midlands Police (22951488)

Khan was allowed out on licence last year, after serving seven years of a 16-year sentence for his role in the Stock Exchange plot of 2010.

He was part of an al Qaida-inspired terror group that plotted to bomb the London Stock Exchange and the US Embassy in London, among other targets, and build a terrorist training camp on land in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir owned by Khan’s family.

Khan, who was living in Stoke-on-Trent at the time, was given an indeterminate sentence in February 2012. But he and two co-conspirators appealed and in April 2013 the Court of Appeal quashed Khan’s indeterminate sentence and gave him a determinate 16-year jail term.

Typically prisoners serve half of their term in prison. Khan’s time in custody may have been taken into account when determining when he was released on licence.

The Parole Board said Khan “appears to have been released automatically on licence (as required by law), without ever being referred to the board”.

As pressure mounted for an investigation into Khan’s released, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who chaired a meeting of the government's emergency committee Cobra on Friday night, said he had long argued that it was a "mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early and it is very important that we get out of that habit and that we enforce the appropriate sentences for dangerous criminals, especially for terrorists, that I think the public will want to see".

The Queen issued a statement, saying: “Prince Philip and I have been saddened to hear of the terror attacks at London Bridge.

“We send our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones and who have been affected by yesterday's terrible violence.

“I express my enduring thanks to the police and emergency services, as well as the brave individuals who put their own lives at risk to selflessly help and protect others.”

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