Boris Johnson saw Jack Merritt’s death as an “opportunity” during the general election campaign, the father of the London Bridge terror victim has said in an exclusive interview with Sky News.
Speaking to Sky’s Beth Rigby about his son and the response to the terror attack, Dave Merritt said: “Instead of seeing a tragedy, Boris Johnson saw an opportunity and he went on the offensive and started talking about extending the tariff for prisoners, serving sentences with a maximum of 25 years,” Dave Merritt told Sky News.
The father added: “Boris Johnson doesn’t know all the facts about it. What was required was just a dignified approach whereby the politicians would express their regrets, express their condolences to the people affected and would then get on with campaigning in the election.”
“It wasn’t an election issue,” Merritt stated. The father also confirmed in the interview that Jack knew attacker Usman Khan, saying: “I don’t know whether he drove him there or not. I know that he had been involved in meeting him and taking him to the conference.”
On speaking out about the political context around the terrorist attack, Merritt said: “I just thought, well, you know, my son’s just been killed. If anybody’s entitled to say anything about this, then I am. And I know what he would have said. So I basically just said what he would have said.
“I was also conscious of the fact that probably the people at the university who ran the course would have been in shock anyway and would have been probably more constrained than I was in terms of what they could and couldn’t say. But I just thought it was important to just push back against that narrative of, ok, this is obviously demonstrating a need for harsher penalties and so on.”
Merritt described Boris Johnson’s reaction to the attack as an “ill-considered intervention and almost like a knee jerk reaction”. He explained: “As I say, I think he saw an opportunity to score some points in the election. They immediately said, oh, this is Labour’s fault – they allowed this to happen.”
He explained that his own comments were reacting to those of Johnson, saying: “Had there been no comment in the way that it was made, then I wouldn’t have said anything. You know, I would have just carried on grieving and helping to support my family.”
The father also revealed that the Prime Minister has not made contact with the family. “The only contact we had was the police liaison officer said to us: ‘I’ve been asked if you would like to meet Priti Patel for her to express her condolences’. And we just said, no, thank you.”
Over the weekend following the terror attack, Johnson appeared on The Andrew Marr Show and made a series of false claims. It has been reported that the BBC received many complaints about the interview.