Suspect Ali Harbi Ali lives on a sought-after North London street, which is also home to restaurant critic Giles Coren.
The tree-lined road, where properties sell for around £2 million, was also previously home to the late Only Fools And Horses actor Roger Lloyd Pack, who lived there for 27 years until his death in 2014.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who yesterday laid a wreath for Sir David Amess at the scene of his killing in Leigh-on-Sea, lives just streets away.
He is also the MP for the area where Ali lives with his father in their council-owned flat. The road, populated with Victorian terrace houses, is described as ‘vibrant’ and ‘close knit’. It lies in the London Borough of Camden.
The road in the London Borough of Camden has been alive with police activity since Friday when police arrived to search the property (pictured above)
Other high-profile names with addresses nearby include former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and the late Labour Minister Tessa Jowell.
A 1959 film called Sapphire, about the murder of a young woman and exposing deep racial tensions in the capital, starring Fenella Fielding, was set in the street.
It has been alive with police activity since Friday when police arrived to search the property.
The family rent the top two floors from the local council, but a ground floor flat is privately owned.
‘We weren’t aware of any father living there,’ said one resident in the street.
‘They’re a lovely family as far as I’m concerned. There was an incident a long time ago involving one of the brothers and the police, but nothing recent.
‘We saw the police there yesterday afternoon and they’ve been coming and going from the property all day.
Residents reported seeing teams of officers, some wearing gloves, moving in and out of the house during Friday and yesterday (police outside the home of Ali Harbi Ali, pictured above)
‘Officers searched the house very thoroughly and some of them also went to the back garden in case anything had been thrown out from the upper windows.’
The resident added: ‘We’ve lived in the street for more than 20 years and they’ve been here all that time since the boys were very young.’
Another resident said that she hadn’t seen any armed officers involved in the raid and there didn’t appear to have been a forced entry.
She said: ‘There were officers in forensic suits going in and out all night. This is a respectable area and you don’t see a lot of police activity in this street.’
The Victorian terraced houses in the street, not far from Hampstead Heath, fetch up to £2.4million.
The tree-lined road was previously home to the late Only Fools And Horses actor Roger Lloyd Pack (pictured in 2001), who lived there for 27 years until his death in 2014
The road’s occupants have held a large Summer street party for the last 20 years, described as ‘a welcoming, vibrant event bringing together the whole community to enjoy a day of wonderful activities, including a delicious shared home-made lunch, children’s activities and a Ceilidh.’
Locals reported seeing teams of officers, some wearing gloves, moving in and out of the house during Friday and yesterday.
One neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘Police have been moving in and out all day. I’ve seen officers in unmarked vans with gloves on, plain clothes guys going in. They’ve been parked along the road.
‘I didn’t know the guy who lived there and never saw him. I can’t believe that someone on this road would be linked to that horrific attack.’
Terror suspect Ali Harbi Ali plotted attack on Tory MP Sir David Amess for a week: British Muslim, 25, lives on celebrity-studded London street of £2million houses and his father is a former Somali official left ‘traumatised’ by his son’s arrest
By Glen Owen, Jake Ryan, Abul Taher and Scarlet Howes for the Mail on Sunday
The killer of Tory MP Sir David Amess planned the murderous assault more than a week in advance, security sources have told The Mail on Sunday.
As police continued to question a 25-year-old British man of Somalian descent last night, sources revealed that the attacker had booked an appointment at Sir David’s constituency surgery before stabbing the politician 17 times.
The suspect was named last night as Ali Harbi Ali, the son of a former communications adviser to the prime minister of Somalia. Harbi Ali Kullane, confirmed that his son was in police custody following the stabbing and said he was ‘traumatised’ by the arrest.
Ali may have lived in Sir David’s Southend West constituency in Essex in the past, but his most recent residence is believed to be in London, where officers have been carrying out searches at three addresses.
The security services are providing assistance to Scotland Yard, which is leading the investigation. Last night, detectives were granted a warrant of further detention, allowing them to keep Ali in custody until Friday.
Police officers were yesterday standing guard outside the North London council house where Ali lives. It is in a street of £2 million three-storey townhouses where neighbours include broadcaster Giles Coren and, formerly, the late actor Roger Lloyd Pack, who played Trigger in Only Fools And Horses.
Sir David, 69, who had been an MP since 1983, met the public every fortnight and advertised the details on his parliamentary website.
Shortly before his killing, one Minister told this newspaper that the Government feared a wave of fresh terror attacks as the country emerged from the Covid pandemic, due to an ‘epidemic’ of ‘bedroom radicals’ who spent lockdown hunched over computers plotting atrocities.
Priti Patel Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle paid their respects to Sir David (pictured above), less than 24 hours after he was fatally stabbed during a constituency surgery
Police officers attend following the stabbing of UK Conservative MP Sir David Amess as he met with constituents at a constituency surgery on October 15t, in Leigh-on-Sea
The Prime Minister lays a wreath of flowers at the foot of a tree in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex and Sir Keir Starmer stands behind him
Well-wishers attend a candle-lit vigil in memory of the Conservative MP David Amess, who was fatally stabbed the previous day, in Leigh-on-Sea
Boris Johnson, Sir Keir Starmer, Priti Patel and Sir Lyndsay Hoyle arrive to the scene of Sir David Amess’s killing in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex to pay tribute Saturday
Members of the public attend a vigil for Sir David on the field where an air ambulance landed as paramedics tried to save the MP for Southend West, after he was stabbed to death in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
Police officers stand nearby as crowds gather in darkness at Belfairs sports ground in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Saturday evening to honour the 69-year-old Tory MP, who was killed while meeting constituents yesterday
‘They are very hard for the security services to keep track of before they strike,’ the Minister said in a chilling warning.
Ali – who had not been charged last night – is being questioned by police to establish whether he had links to radical Islamic groups. Whitehall insiders said Ali was not known to MI5, although he is thought to have been targeted by Prevent, the Government deradicalisation programme, some years ago.
His father told The Sunday Times: ‘I’m feeling very traumatised. It’s not something that I expected or ever dreamt of.’
It is understood that initial indications point to the attacker being a ‘lone wolf’ who had ‘self-radicalised’ ahead of the attack at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea at Friday lunchtime.
Sources said that the suspect lived in London and travelled to Essex by train to carry out the attack. Ali was yesterday moved from Southend and taken for questioning to a specialised higher-security unit for terror suspects in London. A post mortem on Sir David has also been conducted.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said last night: ‘As part of the fast-paced investigation, officers have attended three addresses in the London area and conducted searches.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid flowers at the scene of the fatal stabbing yesterday along with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
The shocking attack, which came five years after the murder of MP Jo Cox, ignited fresh concerns over the protection of parliamentarians.
Sir Lindsay is preparing to launch a review of MPs’ security arrangements amid complaints about a postcode lottery for MPs, with some police forces offering more support than others during their regular constituency meeting. Sir Lindsay told Channel 4 News: ‘In the end, we have to ensure that democracy survives. These people don’t like our values. They want to stop us carrying out our duties. They cannot win and must not win.’
His review is expected to consider calls to provide a police guard for all MPs’ local surgeries as the ‘only solution’, along with airport-style security. But the move is likely to be resisted by some MPs.
Writing in today’s Mail on Sunday, Sir Lindsay made what will be construed as a thinly veiled reference to Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner describing Tories as ‘scum’. He says: ‘The quality of political discourse has to change. The conversation has to be kinder and based on respect… The hate, which drives these attacks, has to end.’
As Westminster reverberated with shock yesterday:
- Sir David’s grieving family were comforting each other at the house of his wife Julia’s mother, four miles from the scene, where they were too upset to comment.
- A friend of Sir David’s personal assistant, Julia Cushion, who witnessed the attack, said: ‘She’s very, very upset. She’s a mess.’
- Former Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood called for face-to-face meetings to be put on hold pending a security review, but Ms Patel said a balance was needed and that MPs should not be ‘cowed’ by terrorists;
- Muslims from Southend’s mosques called the murder an ‘indefensible atrocity’;
- Somali leaders also condemned the ‘senseless murder which has shocked communities across the country’;
- A Labour source said the party will not be standing a candidate in the by-election for Sir David’s seat out of respect, and nor will the Lib Dems.
People during a candlelight vigil at Belfairs Recreation Ground near to Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea
People during a candlelight vigil at Belfairs Recreation Ground near to Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
A much-loved MP and a proud father of five, Sir David gave away his daughter Alex, 31, in marriage just weeks ago
Blue balloons were handed out at a vigil in Southend on Saturday afternoon as constituents paid tribute
The National Police Chiefs’ Council is contacting all MPs about security, while Ms Patel said she had asked all forces to review safety arrangements for MPs immediately.
She will make a statement to Parliament tomorrow.
Some MPs struck a defiant tone as they held constituency surgeries as normal yesterday. Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke met voters in a Yorkshire supermarket, and said: ‘We cannot let events like this diminish the deep relationship between an MP and their constituents.’
Former Cabinet Minister David Davis said suspending public meetings with MPs would be ‘a terrible reflection of what David stood for’.
Tory MP Andrew Percy told The Mail on Sunday: ‘There’s only so much protection you can provide to an MP who lives locally, shops locally and uses other local facilities.’
Westminster united in grief: Senior politicians lay flowers for Sir David Amess after he was killed in a frenzied knife attack
By Scarlet Howes and Mark Hookham for the Mail on Sunday
Britain’s most senior politicians were united in grief yesterday as they laid flowers and paid tribute to Tory MP Sir David Amess after he was killed in a frenzied knife attack.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle left flowers at the church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Sir David was stabbed to death on Friday.
They joined an outpouring of emotion from Sir David’s heartbroken constituents who voiced their shock at the horrific loss of the hard-working and respected MP.
Sir David, 69, was holding a constituency surgery when an assailant stormed into the Belfairs Methodist Church shortly after midday and stabbed him 17 times. He died at the scene.
A 25-year-old man – named last night as Ali Harbi Ali – was arrested on suspicion of murder when police arrived five minutes later.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer, left, followed by Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Lindsey Hoyle, carry flowers as they arrive at the scene where Sir David Amess was killed
Home Secretary Priti Patel today issued a defiant message, saying the UK and its democracy ‘cannot be cowed’ – as Members of Parliament vowed to carry on holding face-to-face public meetings
Asked whether there could be a balance between the safety of MPs and the democratic process, Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured) today said: ‘It can be balanced, it can absolutely be balanced’
Horrified constituents waiting to see Sir David (pictured), who has campaigned to help refugees, watched in horror as he was attacked
Ms Patel yesterday issued a defiant message, saying the UK and its democracy ‘cannot be cowed’ – as Members of Parliament vowed to carry on holding face-to-face public meetings.
Speaking at Southend police station, Ms Patel said: ‘We’re all struggling to come to terms with the fact that David Amess has been so cruelly taken away from all of us. He was a man of the people, he was absolutely there for everyone, he was a much loved parliamentarian.
‘To me, he was a dear and loyal friend,’ she added, paying tribute to his wife, Julia, and their five children. Ms Patel said the security arrangements for MPs will ensure they can ‘carry on with their duties as elected democratic members’.
Earlier, the Home Secretary wiped away tears as she joined Mr Johnson, Sir Keir and Sir Lindsay in laying flowers around a tree next to the Methodist church. A note attached to Ms Patel’s wreath read: ‘You are in our thoughts and hearts. Rest in peace, dear David.’
Mr Johnson left a bouquet of white flowers with a note that read: ‘To the memory of Sir David Amess MP, a fine parliamentarian and a much loved colleague and friend.’
The appalling attack was witnessed by Sir David’s personal assistant Julie Cushion, 59, and his parliamentary case-worker Rebecca Hayton. Southend councillor John Lamb said: ‘The two women are traumatised. Julie was outside the office and heard a scream so she ran in and saw David on the floor. The scream was Rebecca.’
Ms Cushion’s friend Stephen Aylan, a former councillor, said: ‘She’s very, very upset. She’s a mess.’ PR executive Richard Hillgrove spoke to Mr Amess on a Zoom call just minutes before he was stabbed, according to The Sunday Times.
The pair discussed the Children’s Parliament, an event where children are matched with MPs to debate the important issues of the day. Mr Hillgrove, whose 11-year-old daughter Lola had been matched with Mr Amess, says their call ended at 12.02pm, so Mr Amess could host his constituency surgery at the church.
By 12.05pm, the MP had been fatally stabbed and minutes later, Mr Hillgrove saw reports of the attack on the television.
‘I didn’t even realise it was Sir David at first,’ he said. ‘I was absolutely horrified, every minute… seemed like an hour, the longer it went, the more concerning it got.’
Sir David’s close family were last night believed to be comforting each other at his mother-in-law’s home, which is four miles from where he was killed. The MP’s second cousins joined other well-wishers in laying floral tributes at the scene of his death, describing him as ‘a great man, husband, father and member of our family’.
Cousins Moira and Pat wrote: ‘Thinking of your lovely family. Can’t believe this has actually happened. Will always love you.’
Constituent Erica Keane, who also laid flowers for Sir David, said: ‘My heart is broken for his family and for his children and for Southend, which we love dearly. He was everywhere and he was Southend.’
Last night, more than 100 people gathered at a candle-lit vigil at Belfairs Sports Ground in Leigh-on-Sea and took it in turns to pay tribute to the MP.
Andy Wilkins, 21, the chairman of Southend West Young Conservatives, said: ‘I had a meeting with him for half an hour yesterday. We spoke about plans for next year. I left 40 minutes before it happened. I am shocked. Words can’t describe how much of an inspiration he was to me as a mentor.’
One woman – who was too upset to give her name – said: ‘I work on the children’s ward at Southend Hospital. He used to come every Christmas and dress up as Santa.’
Local independent councillor Keith Evans said: ‘He was amazingly hard-working. He always rolled his sleeves up and got the job done.’
At an earlier vigil at Southend’s Civic Centre, well-wishers released blue balloons. Knighted for public service in 2015, Sir David was a tireless campaigner on issues ranging from Brexit to animal welfare and marine conservation.
Stanley Johnson, the Prime Minister’s father and a friend of Sir David, recalled seeing him at a meeting he hosted for the Conservative Animal Welfare Association at the Tory party conference earlier this month. ‘He talked about the important links between animal welfare, nature protection and the big challenges that we are facing at the moment.
‘Sir David was absolutely fundamental and has been for many years in the Conservative Party and in Parliament in pushing the animal welfare agenda.’
James Duddridge, the MP for Rochford and Southend East – a neighbouring constituency of Sir David’s – said: ‘He touched so many lives and in many ways was a benchmark MP in terms of his constituency work that we all aspire to.’
Southend mosques condemn ‘indefensible atrocity’
By Abul Taher and Jake Ryan for the Mail on Sunday
The fatal stabbing of MP Sir David Amess has been condemned as an ‘indefensible atrocity’ by mosques in Southend.
Faith leaders said that the father of five was an ‘upstanding friend to our Muslim community’ and attended key events, including weddings, mosque openings and the launch of the town’s first Muslim Scout group.
In a statement published on the Essex Jamme Masjid website, on behalf of ‘all Southend mosques’, they said their thoughts and prayers were with Sir David’s family, friends and colleagues.
Shocked members of the town’s Muslim community gathered near the scene of Sir David’s death to lay flowers in tribute to the MP for Southend West
The fatal stabbing of MP Sir David Amess has been condemned as an ‘indefensible atrocity’ by mosques in Southend
‘Sir David’s murder was an indefensible atrocity, committed on the grounds of a place of worship and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms,’ the statement said.
‘This act was committed in the name of blind hatred and we look forward to the perpetrator being brought to justice,’ it added.
Scotland Yard said early investigations had revealed ‘a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism’.
Shocked members of the town’s Muslim community gathered near the scene of Sir David’s death to lay flowers in tribute to the MP for Southend West.
Ruhul Shamsuddin, joint secretary of Essex Jamme Masjid, described the MP as a ‘tremendous force for good and pillar of support for our community’.
‘This was senseless violence against a truly wonderful man,’ he added.
Iftikhar Ul Haq, Imam at UKIM Southend Mosque, said Sir David was ‘always reachable’, adding: ‘He showed great compassion for communities and always was there to offer support.’
Last night, Somali leaders in the UK condemned the murder after reports emerged that a member of their community may be the alleged attacker. A 25-year-old man was being questioned by police.
The Council of Somali Organisations said in a statement: ‘We condemn the brutal murder of Sir David Amess MP.
‘This was a senseless murder which has shocked British communities across the country.
‘We are shocked and saddened by the senseless violence perpetrated upon an innocent Member of Parliament. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sir David Amess’s family, loved ones and anyone who has been affected by this callous act.’
The organisation’s director, Kahiye Alim, said: ‘I send my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Sir David Amess MP.
‘His life was one of service to others and we will remember his legacy as one of empowerment and community building.
‘We utterly condemn this brutal murder, which is an affront to all of our values and our democratic society itself.’
An Iranian opposition group paid tribute to Sir David, describing him as a ‘human rights champion’ and an ‘enemy of many dictators’.
Hossein Abedini was among several members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran who laid flowers yesterday.