Victim of London Bridge terror attack named as University of Cambridge’s Jack Merritt, from Cottenham
The name of one of the two people killed in Friday's London Bridge terror attack has been confirmed by his father.
Jack Merritt, who was 25, was the course co-ordinator for Learning Together, the prison rehabilitation initiative run by the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology.
He was one of two people killed when convicted terrorist Usman Khan, 28, launched his stabbing attack at Fishmongers' Hall, where he was a guest at a Learning Together conference.
Jack’s father, David, tweeted that his son “would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily”.
He described him as “a beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog”.
Jack Merritt attended Hill Road Sixth Form in Cambridge before graduating in law from Manchester University, before completing an MPhil at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge, while attached to Hughes Hall, in 2017.
At Learning Together in Cambridge, he helped to co-ordinate a programme that brought together those in higher education and the criminal justice system. As part of the programme, students based at the University of Cambridge and students based in prison studied together on university-level courses.
The aim was to form connections that make society more inclusive and safer by reducing reoffending.
But it was a former prisoner who was to take his life.
Daniel Zeichner, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Cambridge, told the Cambridge Independent: “This is hugely tragic for Cambridge. A young life has been taken needlessly and so much potential has been wasted. Jack’s dad is a Labour Party member so the whole Labour family feel this particularly hard.”
A woman killed in Friday’s London Bridge attacks has yet to be named. Three people were injured. NHS chief executive Simon Stevens has said two are in stable condition and one has less serious injuries.
The attacker - Usman Khan, 28 - had been released from prison on licence last year.
Khan, who took part in a Learning Together programme while at HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire, had attended some of Friday’s conference at Fishmongers’ Hall before he launched his attack.
He was tackled by members of the public - including former prisoners and a British Transport Police officer in plain clothes. Police then shot Khan dead on the bridge.
Prof Stephen Toope, the University of Cambridge’s vice chancellor, has said he is “devastated” by the attack.
A vigil was held at Great St Mary’s Church on Saturday afternoon.
Ian Sollom, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for South Cambridgeshire, said: “I would like to extend my condolences to the family and friends of Jack Merritt, the young man from Cottenham whose life was taken in the attack in London yesterday.
“This has come as a huge shock to the community of Cottenham. We watched the events of yesterday from a distance, but we now know that they have brought grief to our neighbours in Cambridgeshire.
“My thoughts are with Jack’s family and friends, as well as the whole community in Cottenham.
“Out of respect for the family and the local community, we will be pausing campaign activity in Cottenham.”
Cottenham United FC paid tribute to Jack, who had played for their Colts team.
The club tweeted: “Cottenham United Football Club is devastated to learn of the tragic death of Jack Merritt during yesterday’s terror attack on London Bridge.
“Jack, from the village, played for our Colts sides and was known to many of our players, supporters and those associated with our club.”
The club also confirmed that it would hold a minute's silence at its next game.
The mayor of Cambridge, Cllr Gerri Bird, said: “This is a tragic event and it is heart breaking to see young lives cut short by senseless violence.
“My thoughts are with all affected by the incident and the families who have lost loved ones. As a community we must stand together against hatred and remember we are stronger together.”
There have also been tributes from within the criminal justice system, with appreciation for Jack’s work.
Audrey Ludwig, director of the Suffolk Law Centre, said: “I knew Jack although only over last 12 months as we discussed possible collaboration. I visited one of his prison projects and his deep commitment to prisoner education and rehabilitation was deeply impressive. I send condolences to his family, colleagues and the prisoners’ group.”
BBC journalist Joshua Rozenberg called him a “fine young man”.
And law student Jake Thorold, who knew Jack from the Learning Together programme, called him an “amazing person”.
Zoe Andrews, who taught Jack at school, described him as “absolutely delightful and so talented”.
The rapper Dave, who wrote an album inspired by the help his brother received in prison, also paid tribute on Twitter.
Labour parliamentary candidate John McDonnell, who was the shadow chancellor, sent his condolences to the family.