Man charged with killing British MP David Amess in church pleads not guilty

David Amess
A photograph of Sir David Amess is displayed during a vigil held at Saint Peter’s Catholic Church following the stabbing of U.K. Conservative MP Sir David Amess as he met with constituents at a constituency surgery on October 15, 2021, in Leigh-on-Sea, England. |

A 25-year-old man believed to be behind the October stabbing of Conservative British member of Parliament David Amess at a church has pleaded not guilty to the murder and allegations he planned a terror attack for over two years.

Ali Harbi Ali, of Kentish Town in north London, made an appearance on Tuesday in London court for his pretrial hearing before the Old Bailey, the nickname of the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales.

At the hearing, Ali pleaded not guilty to allegations suggesting that he researched addresses linked to members of Parliament, the houses of Parliament and conducted internet searches for attack targets over a time starting in May 2019, The Guardian reports. 

The deadly stabbing occurred on Oct. 15, when Amess was conducting a constituency surgery for his Southend West constituency at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. 

Amess suffered 17 stab wounds so severe the paramedics could not get him to the hospital before his passing. An hour after the brutal assault, Amess died on the scene at the church at around 1:13 p.m. He was 69.

Ali is facing charges of “engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts” between May 2019 and Sept. 28, 2021.

Authorities also allege that Ali engaged in “reconnaissance of locations of targets to attack” and conducted “internet research relating to targets to attack.”

A trial date has been set for March 21, 2022, while Ali remains in custody.

In October, it was reported that police described Ali as a “self-radicalized” man who had previously been referred to the government’s deradicalization program. 

Amess was married with five children and served as a parliamentarian for 38 years. He was known for his socially conservative viewpoints and pro-life stance on abortion.

Amess’ family said they are “proud” of the life Amess lived.

“Our hearts are shattered. However, there was still so much David wanted to do – this we know from the events of the last few days,” said Amess’ family members in a statement.

The family also mentioned that Amess was “strong and courageous” and that “nobody should die” in the way he did. 

“He was a patriot and a man of peace. So, we ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all. This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness,” continued the family’s public sentiment.

Amess’ family hopes “some good” would come from the “tragedy.”

“Whatever one’s race, religious or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand. As a family, we are trying to understand why this awful thing has occurred,” the statement reads. “We are absolutely broken, but we will survive and carry on for the sake of a wonderful and inspiring man.”

Others who knew Amess shared similar sentiments following his murder.

Chairman of the Southend Conservative Association, John Lamb, shared that before the killing, Amess had celebrated the wedding of one of his daughters.

“He was a family man, it’s just tremendously sad,” Lamb said, according to The Telegraph. “They can’t believe that Sir. David’s gone, the wife can’t believe that her husband has gone and that it happened at a place he loved being. He will never go home again. That’s the disbelief.”

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said he was “shocked and saddened” to hear about the stabbing and killing.

“This death throws a sharp light onto the fact that our Members of Parliament are servants of the people, available to people in their need, especially in their constituencies,” Nichols said, according to Crux. “This horrific attack, as David was undertaking his constituency surgery, is an attack on our democratic process and traditions.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson posted a social media statement saying Amess believed “passionately” in the country and its future. 

“The U.K. lost a fine public servant and a much-loved friend and colleague. … All of our hearts are full of shock and sadness,” Johnson expressed on Twitter in October. 

“One of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics. … Our thoughts are very much today with his wife, his children, and his family.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer called Amess’ death “Horrific and deeply shocking news,” while Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey added it was a “truly terrible day for British politics.”

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