Fishmongers’ Hall terror attack victim’s family to sue the Government

The solicitor for Jack Merritt’s family said they had to issue proceedings after the Government refused a ‘standstill agreement’.

Jack Merritt
Jack Merritt

The family of Jack Merritt, who was killed by a convicted terrorist at Fishmongers’ Hall last year, are suing the Government over his death.

Mr Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were fatally stabbed by Usman Khan during a prisoner rehabilitation event near London Bridge on November 29 last year.

Khan, 28, was out on licence when he attended the event, organised by Cambridge University’s Learning Together programme, armed with two kitchen knives and wearing a fake suicide vest.

He was tackled by members of the public with a narwhal tusk, a decorative pike and a fire extinguisher before he was shot dead by police on London Bridge.

Jack Merritt funeral
Jack Merritt’s parents Anne and David, left, and girlfriend Leanne O’Brien, centre (Aaron Chown/PA)

Mr Merritt’s parents, Anne and David, his brother Joe and his girlfriend Leanne O’Brien are now taking legal action against the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Home Office at the High Court.

Their solicitor said on Thursday that the family had been left with “no alternative” but to issue proceedings on Wednesday, shortly before the one-year time limit for claims brought under the Human Rights Act.

Kate Maynard, a partner at Hickman and Rose, told the PA news agency that “all the relevant public bodies who are legally represented at the inquest” had reached a “standstill agreement” with the family – except for the MoJ and the Home Office, which she said “unfathomably” did not agree.

She said: “Usman Khan was a convicted terrorist under multi-agency public protection when he killed Jack and Saskia on November 29 2019.

“These circumstances raise questions about the assessment and management of Usman Khan’s risk.”

London Bridge killer named as convicted terrorist Usman Khan
Usman Khan, who killed Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones in November 2019 (West Midlands Police)

Ms Maynard explained that “where state agents or public bodies, by their acts or omissions, may have caused or contributed to a death”, the right to life under the European Convention on Human Rights is engaged.

She added that, because court claims brought under human rights laws must be filed within a year, the Merritt family had to bring their case this week to “protect their position”.

Ms Maynard said families “normally” reach an agreement with public bodies they may take legal action against “so that proceedings do not have to be seriously contemplated or issued until after all the investigations are completed, including an inquest”.

She added that such civil cases are “often” resolved after an inquest “without involving the courts at all”.

But Ms Maynard said: “In this case, all the relevant public bodies who are legally represented at the inquest and were approached agreed to a limitation holiday for one year, except – unfathomably – the Secretaries of State for Justice and the Home Department.

“Regrettably, this left the family with no alternative but having to turn their minds to protecting their position by issuing proceedings, at a time when they were otherwise focusing their attention on celebrating Jack’s life on the anniversary of his death.”

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