An American academic has given a graphic account of the moment the London Bridge stabbing attack began, saying it “felt like a warzone”.
Bryonn Bain told the BBC that victim Jack Merritt had been the first person to confront Usman Khan when he launched his knife assault during a prisoner rehabilitation conference on Friday.
“I saw people die, I saw things that I will never be able to unsee,” he said.
Vigils have taken place for Mr Merritt, 25, and second victim Saskia Jones, 23.
Three other people were also injured in the attack before Khan was shot dead by armed officers on London Bridge – two are still in hospital in a stable condition.
Prof Bain said former offenders attending the University of Cambridge-linked conference “stepped up and intervened” to tackle Khan, and people at Fishmongers’ Hall owed their lives to the actions of those who had previously spent time in jail.
He said two men from his performance poetry workshop immediately ran towards shouts from elsewhere in Fishmongers’ Hall in the City of London as the attack began, and as shouts grew louder he also went to assist.
“That’s when I ran down and saw the scene unfolding there,” he said. “I was able to see the attacker.”
He added: “It felt like a warzone… it felt like total chaos.”
Prof Bain said course co-ordinator Mr Merritt was “the first line of defence”.
“I want to honour him,” Prof Bain said of Mr Merritt. “I want to honour his father’s wishes which have been explicit to not have his life be used for political purposes to ramp up draconian policies, because that’s not what he was about.”
Mr Merritt’s father criticised newspaper coverage of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to review the early release of convicted terrorists.
Writing in the Guardian, David Merritt says his son “would be seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against”.
The article calls for a justice system that focuses on rehabilitation, rather than revenge, and criticises indeterminate sentences, saying his son worked for “a world where we do not lock up and throw away the key”.
Prof Bain added: “I want to make sure that as much as possible that we uphold the heroes of the day, were formerly incarcerated people, some of the folks who are often easiest to dehumanise.
“They stepped up and many of the folks in that space would not be here today if it weren’t for these guys who did time in prison and literally saved lives.”
In other developments on Monday:
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his response to the attack after Mr Merritt’s father criticised newspaper coverage of Mr Johnson’s pledge to review the early release of convicted terrorists
- Mr Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attended a vigil at the Guildhall near London Bridge to honour those caught up in the attack
- London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the best way to defeat the hatred shown in the attack was to focus on the values of hope, unity and love
- BBC News learned the attacker, Usman Khan, 28, had been under investigation by the security service MI5 since his release from prison last year, but given one of the lowest priorities. He had been convicted of a terrorism offence in 2012
- As part of his release conditions, Khan was obliged to take part in the government’s desistance and disengagement programme – which aims to rehabilitate those involved in terrorism
Vigils for the victims of the attack were also held in Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University, which Ms Jones had previously attended.
Mr Merritt and Ms Jones both studied for masters degrees at the University of Cambridge’s institute of criminology and had been taking part in an event for its Learning Together programme – which focuses on education within the criminal justice system – when they were killed.
Mr Merritt, from Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, was a co-ordinator of the Learning Together programme and Ms Jones, from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, a volunteer
The victims’ families paid tribute to their loved ones at the weekend.
Ms Jones’s family said their daughter had a “great passion” for supporting victims of criminal justice.
In a statement, Mr Merritt’s family described him as a “talented boy” who “died doing what he loved”.
Toby Williamson, chief executive of Fishmongers’ Hall, praised the bravery of his staff who intervened to stop the attacker, hailing their actions as “extraordinary things done by ordinary people”.
Mr Williamson told how Polish chef Lukasz suffered five wounds to his left-hand side as he fended off the knifeman with a narwhal tusk during “about a minute of one-on-one straight combat” – allowing others time to escape danger.
A group of hall staff, ex-offenders, prison and probation staff are believed to have drawn Khan out on to London Bridge where he was subsequently shot dead by armed police.
Khan, who admitted preparing terrorist acts in 2012, was released from prison in December 2018 after serving half of his sentence.
The BBC understands Khan was formally under investigation by MI5 as he left jail but placed in the second-to-bottom category of investigations as his initial risk to the public was thought to be minimal.
This was consistent with the grading given to most other people convicted of terrorism offences as they go back into the community under a release licence.
A low level of prioritisation is assigned to offenders such as Khan because their release comes with a strict set of licence conditions.
These conditions theoretically provide suitable monitoring and oversight, such as alerts if they contact other suspects or travel outside an approved area.
Khan, the BBC has learned, was on the highest-level of such community monitoring. The overall package, in theory, relieves pressure on MI5 so the security service can focus on more immediate threats.
Friday was the first time that Khan, who wore a GPS tag, had been permitted to travel to London since he left prison. The BBC has been told that – earlier in the year – Khan was refused permission to travel to Stoke-on-Trent, which is where he grew up, in order to attend a social event.
The prime minister said on Sunday that 74 people jailed for terror offences and released early would have their licence conditions reviewed..
Police said two terror-related arrests following Friday’s incident, in Staffordshire and north London, were not directly connected to the London Bridge attack.
It came after the UK’s terrorism threat level was downgraded on 4 November from “severe” to “substantial”, meaning that attacks were thought to be “likely” rather than “highly likely”.
Uber will not be granted a new licence to operate in London after repeated safety failures, Transport for London (TfL) has said.
The regulator said the taxi app was not “fit and proper” as a licence holder, despite having made a number of positive changes to its operations.
Uber initially lost its licence in 2017 but was granted two extensions, the most recent of which expires on Monday.
The firm will appeal and can continue to operate during that process.
London is one of Uber’s top five markets globally and it has about 45,000 drivers in the city. Overall, there are 126,000 licensed private hire and black cabs in the capital.
If its appeal is unsuccessful, some think Uber drivers would move over to rival ride-sharing firms such as Bolt and Kapten.”There would be competition that would fill that void quite quickly,” Fiona Cincotta, a market analyst at City Index told the BBC.
Why won’t Uber get a new licence?
TfL said it had identified a “pattern of failures” in London that placed passenger safety at risk.
These included a change to Uber’s systems which allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts.
It meant there were at least 14,000 fraudulent trips in London in late 2018 and early 2019, TfL said.
The regulator also found dismissed or suspended drivers had been able to create Uber accounts and carry passengers. In one example, a driver was able to continue working for Uber, despite the fact his private hire licence had been revoked after he was cautioned for distributing indecent images of children.
Helen Chapman, director of licensing at TfL, said: “While we recognise Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “I know this decision may be unpopular with Uber users, but their safety is the paramount concern. Regulations are there to keep Londoners safe.”
‘I feel safe using Uber’
Donna Stevens says her experiences of using Uber in London have “always been positive”.
In her job as a carer she often works late, so regularly uses the service. “The drivers are friendly, courteous and professional. I can’t afford to get a metered taxi.”
She says that if Uber were to go, she would probably have to go back to using public transport late at night, which does not make her feel safe.
However, another reader, Kay, says she would not be sad to see Uber go.
“I complained a couple of months ago about a driver who made me feel so uncomfortable I abandoned the ride and walked home in the dark at 11 o’clock at night instead of staying in his cab.”
She says Uber gave her a £5 credit but did not apologise. “How is it OK to employ drivers that make women feel unsafe?” she says.
Is this the end of Uber in London?
Uber lovers in London, fear not! The company’s cars will not suddenly disappear from the capital’s streets.
Uber is going to appeal against this decision so a magistrate will have to decide whether Uber is fit to hold a licence in London, or not.
A decision from a magistrates court could take weeks or months and unless the court decides otherwise, Uber will retain its licence during this period too.
When TfL decided not to renew Uber’s licence in 2017, the company addressed some of the issues raised by TfL back then and then a magistrate later granted Uber a new licence.
On the face of it TfL is standing tough against perceived failings by Uber. But in effect it is letting the courts decide, at a later date, whether Uber should have a licence, or not.
What does Uber say?
Uber said the decision was “extraordinary and wrong”. It said it had audited every driver in London over the past two months and strengthened its processes.
Boss Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted: “We understand we’re held to a high bar, as we should be. But this TfL decision is just wrong. Over the last 2 years we have fundamentally changed how we operate in London.”
According to Uber, 24% of its sales come from just five cities, including London. The others are Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and São Paulo in Brazil.
In a public filing, it said: “Any inability to operate in London, as well as the publicity concerning any such termination or non-renewal, would adversely affect our business, revenue, and operating results.
“We cannot predict whether the TfL decision, or future regulatory decisions or legislation in other jurisdictions, may embolden or encourage other authorities to take similar actions even where we are operating according to the terms of an existing licence or permit.”
What do others say?
Business lobby group the CBI said customers valued Uber, and encouraged both sides to find a resolution.
But the Unite union – which believes Uber has unfairly taken business from black cab drivers – welcomed the news.
“Uber’s DNA is about driving down standards and creating a race to the bottom which is not in the best interests of professional drivers or customers,” said Jim Kelly, chair of Unite’s London and Eastern cab section.
Where else has banned Uber?
Uber has faced pressure from regulators around the world over the way it treats its drivers, competition concerns, and fears about passenger safety.
The US firm pulled out of Denmark in 2017 because of new taxi laws that required drivers to have fare meters and seat sensors.
Bulgaria and Hungary both stripped Uber’s right to operate following pressure from local taxi unions.
And in May, the ride-hailing firm pulled its UberXL service in Turkey without saying why.
What happened in London in 2017?
TfL first declined to renew Uber’s licence in September 2017, again over safety concerns. Back then it cited Uber’s approach to carrying out background checks on drivers and reporting serious criminal offences.
Uber’s use of secret software, called “Greyball”, which could be used to block regulators from monitoring the app, was another factor, although Uber said it had never been used in the UK.
However, TfL granted Uber a 15-month licence extension – later extended by two months – conditional on it making improvements to its business.
TfL can offer licences of up to five years, but it has been more stringent of late.
In July, Indian ride-hailing company Ola got a 15-month agreement for its entry into the London market, while ViaVan got a three-year licence renewal.
Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:
Commuters have been told not to travel from London Waterloo during the rush hour after a fire closed nine platforms.
The lineside blaze damaged cabling outside the station, meaning trains cannot use platforms 16-24.
Network Rail said “significant damage” had been caused to equipment, meaning trains will be delayed or cancelled.
Disruption is expected for the rest of the day while the Thursday morning rush hour may also be affected.
Network Rail said its engineers would be working through the night to fix the damage.
Waterloo is the busiest and largest railway station in the UK.
The platforms which are closed are normally used by trains serving Windsor, Reading, Hounslow, Richmond and Kingston.
However, services from other platforms are also being affected because trains have to be diverted or revised.
- Circular services via Hounslow, Richmond, Strawberry Hill and Kingston have been cancelled
- Trains between Waterloo and Windsor & Eton Riverside are diverted via Kingston
- Trains between Waterloo and Exeter/Salisbury are terminated and will restart from Basingstoke
Passengers were warned that services on other routes may also be subject to short-notice cancellations or delays.
In a joint statement, Network Rail and South Western Railway said commuters were “strongly advised to use alternative routes where possible and check their journeys before travelling at southwesternrailway.com for ticket acceptance and service details”.
Some passengers took to social media to express their frustration at the travel disruption.
One Twitter user described the situation as an “absolute shambles”, while others complained about being given the wrong or no information at all by train station staff.
An engineering train has derailed in south London causing the closure of the Gatwick Express service.
The train partly left the tracks at low speed outside Victoria station at about 03:00 BST.
No Gatwick Express trains are running, while Southern warned its services would be “severely reduced”.
The train has moved and the track will now be “assessed for damage” and repaired if necessary through the night, according to Southern.
Disruption is expected to last throughout Tuesday but Gatwick Express and Southern said a normal service was expected on Wednesday.
The train was stuck across a number of tracks meaning platforms nine to 13 at Victoria were blocked, while services were not able to use the “slow/stopping” lines to and from Clapham Junction.
Some trains were also unable to leave the Battersea depot – further reducing the number of services that could run.
Recovery teams cut the 50-tonne train from its two wagons and lifted it back on to the track using hydraulic jacks.
Trains running through Gatwick Airport were also disrupted by a separate signalling fault and a passenger who was injured as they left a carriage, which led to one platform becoming blocked.
Some commuters took to social media as they found their trains had been cancelled.
Other stations, including London Bridge, also became congested as people tried to find alternative routes.
You may also be interested in:
A Network Rail spokesperson said passengers should travel “via London Bridge or London Blackfriars as trains will be delayed, diverted or cancelled”.
Train tickets for Southern and Gatwick Express services have been accepted for reasonable routes on other services.
Train services affected:
- Gatwick Express services are completely suspended
- Services to Sutton, Epsom Downs and Epsom to and from London Victoria are reduced
- Some mainline services will be diverted to London Bridge instead of London Victoria
- Southern services between London Victoria and Reigate are cancelled and passengers are advised to use Thameslink to and from Redhill and then Great Western Railway between Reigate and Redhill
- Services between London Victoria and East Grinstead will call additionally at Selhurst and Streatham Common
- Services between Milton Keynes and East Croydon will call additionally at Wandsworth Common when not already booked to do so
- Services between London Victoria and Horsham via Sutton will call additionally at Ewell East
- Southern trains from Sutton to London Bridge via Wimbledon will be cancelled. Thameslink will be running as normal
Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:
A young woman was killed in the London Bridge attack after she ran to the aid of another victim, telling her friends, “I’m a nurse, I have to go and help”, an inquest has heard.
Kirsty Boden, 28, was stabbed in the head as she knelt over restaurant waiter Alexandre Pigeard as he lay dying, the Old Bailey heard.
Footage of her being set upon was shown at the inquest into the deaths of those killed in the London Bridge attack.
Eight people died on 3 June 2017.
Australian Ms Boden, dubbed the “angel of London Bridge”, had been out for a meal with two friends when she heard the three attackers’ van crash into the railings above and debris falling onto the outside tables.
Gareth Patterson QC, the lawyer for her family, said Ms Boden got up within seconds of the crash.
The off-duty nurse, who worked at Guy’s Hospital, was thinking of others rather than her own safety, he said.
A statement from Ms Boden’s friend, Melanie Schroeder – one of the friends she was dining with – was read out to the jury on Friday.
Ms Schroeder, who had previously asked Ms Boden to be her bridesmaid at her wedding, said: “Kirsty jumped up and said, ‘I’m a nurse. I have to go and help. I need to see if they need help’.
“Kirsty headed off and I thought nothing of it,” she said.
Ms Schroeder said she then remembered hearing screaming and thinking people should calm down because it was “just a crash”.
The friends fled the restaurant with the other diners, and when they returned Ms Schroeder said she saw Ms Boden’s body on the ground, which she recognised “because of her bright pink cardigan”.
Ms Boden, who had suffered stab wounds, was alive but unable to speak, Ms Schroeder said.
Ms Schroeder and a GP tried to revive her friend, while Ms Mooney attempted to find emergency medical help, but Ms Boden died at their side.
Courtroom in awe at selflessness
BBC reporter Hanna Yusuf, at the inquest
Dreams, hopes and friendships were terminated on the night Australian nurse Kirsty Boden lost her life.
The courtroom watched in awe as footage of a selfless Ms Boden getting up from her dinner with friends – to help victims after hearing a crash – was played.
The clips illustrated a night that violently broke up the friendship trio of Ms Boden, Melanie Schroeder and Harriet Mooney.
In statements read aloud, Ms Schroeder and Ms Mooney emotively described the night during which they saw their friend die.
The desperation in their attempts to save the life of their friend, who was supposed to be Ms Schroeder’s bridesmaid, was palpable.
There was a collective shudder as the court watched the moment Khuram Butt made a stabbing motion at a faint figure identified as Ms Boden.
The court was reminded that the breakdown of moments that seemed lifelong, and were life-changing, happened over a matter of seconds in real time.
The inquest heard how Ms Boden was set upon by all three attackers – Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba.
The three had crashed their car on London Bridge before running through Borough Market.
They were shot dead near the market around 10 minutes after their attack began.
Lawyer Mr Patterson said the tip of a knife carried by attacker Butt, 27, was later found embedded in Ms Boden’s head.
The jury heard an account from witness Alexandre Colou, who said he saw the moment Ms Boden fell as crowds of people fled the attackers.
“Her eyes were moving wildly,” he said. “She had difficulties breathing. I was talking to her and then her eyes stopped moving.
“I said ‘stay awake, stay awake, stay with me’.”
The stories emerging from the inquest
- Australian au pair Sara Zelenak was being helped up by a passer-by after slipping over in her high heels when they were both fatally stabbed.
- The first person stabbed in the attack, Richard Livett, described coming “nose to nose” with attacker Khuram Butt, who shouted “Allahu Akbar” in his face before stabbing him in the back.
- PC Mia Kerr recalled how she discovered victim Sebastien Belanger lying in the street and used her baton to protect other members of the public from the attackers.
- Off-duty nurse Helen Kennett told how she asked one of the London Bridge attackers what was wrong with him before he stabbed her in the neck. She survived the attack.
The inquest also heard from British Transport Police constable, Wayne Marques, who previously spoke to the BBC about being the first officer to confront all three of the attackers.
At the inquest, PC Marques told of how he had been on patrol, armed with only a baton, when he ran to the aid of Marie Bondeville, her boyfriend Oliver Dowling, and Richard Livett.
He said he was initially alerted by a woman’s scream and people running up and down Borough High Street.
As he went to investigate, he told the court he was approached by a man running, before finding Richard Livet lying in a pool of blood.
He then noticed a man grabbing Ms Bondeville and told the court how the attacker appeared to punch her three or four times, before she fell to the floor, face down.
PC Marques then described the moment he saw Mr Dowling being stabbed in the neck.
He said: “I got my baton out and charged the first attacker… my intention was to hit him as hard as I could with all my weight behind me with everything I had. I knew he was trying to kill the man on the floor.”
PC Marques said as the first attacker began to “crumble” the officer felt an “almighty blow” to his head – which impaired his vision.
He said: “At this point I saw a knife coming towards me. Through instinctive reaction I defended myself.”
The officer said “a messy fight” ensued with the second attacker, before the third ran over.
Although PC Marques was stabbed multiple times, he said: “My job at that stage was to hold on and keep them fighting until the cavalry arrived.”
A climate protest that has disrupted parts of London for nine days is to end on Thursday, organisers say.
Police cleared Extinction Rebellion’s final road block in Marble Arch earlier and arrested 22 people, bringing the total to 1,088 since protests began.
Specialist equipment has been deployed in Parliament Square to remove protesters camping in trees.
Makeshift camps at Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge were removed earlier in the week.
One protester told the BBC “This is our last stand”.
Organisers said a closing ceremony would be held at 18:00 BST on Thursday at Speaker’s Corner, Hyde Park.
“We will leave the physical locations but a space for truth-telling has been opened up in the world,” they said in a statement.
“We know we have disrupted your lives. We do not do this lightly. We only do this because this is an emergency.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he welcomed the decision to cease the protests, which had been a “huge challenge for our over-stretched and under-resourced Metropolitan Police”.
So far 69 people have been charged in connection with the protest, the Met Police said.
Police have extended restrictions at the Marble Arch site, preventing protesters congregating on the road, until Saturday afternoon.
A senior Scotland Yard officer has warned that officers will require new powers to deal with demonstrations on a similar scale in the future.
Giving evidence to the parliamentary Human Rights Committee, Commander Adrian Usher, head of the Metropolitan Police’s protection command, said it should not be enough for a protest to be “peaceful” to be considered lawful.
“We will conduct a sober review of our tactics against recent protests, but I think it is likely to say the legislation associated with policing protest is quite dated and that policing and protest has moved on and that legislation should follow suit,” he said.
Earlier, Extinction Rebellion Youth handed a letter addressed to MPs, to Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott.
In response, Ms Abbott said MPs needed to come together to host a “broad conversation” on bringing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions down.
Campaigners have issued three core demands to the government: to “tell the truth about climate change”; to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025; and to create a citizens’ assembly to oversee progress.
Elliott Cuciurean, 20, believed to be the first climate activist successfully prosecuted over the fresh wave of protests, was spared a fine at a court hearing on Tuesday.
More actions are expected in the future.