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British Lawmaker David Amess Dies in Stabbing Attack Aired 12:00-12:59p ET

Aired October 15, 2021 - 12:00   ET





BECKY ANDERSON, CNN BREAKING NEWS HOST: I'm Becky Anderson. You are watching CNN, and we are following breaking news out of England. The murder of a Member of Parliament.

Conservative lawmaker, David Amess, was stabbed several times at a meeting with constituents in the town of Leight-on-Sea in Essex. A witness says the 69-year-old, Amess was attacked by a man who walked into that meeting. Police say they have arrested one person on suspicions of murder and they are not seeking anyone else. There is no widespread threat to the public they said.

Just last year, Amess wrote about lawmakers security, saying the killing in 2006 of the Member of Parliament, Jo Cox, had changed how officials interacted with the public. He wrote, "We regularly check our locks."

Let's get to London for the latest on this. Salma Abdelaziz is following this story. We are waiting for both the British Prime Minister to speak and, indeed, to hear from the local police in Essex. What more do we know at this point? What are the details?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Becky, it's a dark day for democracy and Britain, and that's exactly what Prime Minister Boris Johnson is going to have to address because an attack on a lawmaker, the murder of a lawmaker is an attack on Britain's democracy at large.

And as you mentioned, this has occurred for the second time in just about five years. This is a politician who is well-respected, well known in this community, long-serving. Almost 40 years in politics. First elected in 1983, and today he was doing exactly what his job is.

Sir David Amess was hosting essentially what are open-office hours at a local church at noon local time just outside of London in the county of Essex. We understand a few minutes afternoon, a man, 25-year-old male, entered that church while Amess was meeting with his constituents and stabbed him multiple times. Eye witnesses at the scene quickly called the police, called for help. Ambulances tried to revive and save M.P. David Amess, but unfortunately he lost his life at the scene according to local media. Police, of course, quickly acted to apprehend that suspect, that 25- year-old man, and take him into custody, and he is now being investigated for murder.

We do not know his motivation. We do not know the details of the crime in terms of who he is. They have yet to name this suspect, but, of course, already across the country tributes are pouring in, again, for this well-respected figure. Concern now as well over the safety of other lawmakers.

Again, this is not the first time this has happened. Just about five years ago Jo Cox, another lawmaker, was also stabbed to death during her general surgery, during her time in which she meets with voters.

And five years before that, 2010, there was another lawmaker, Stephen Timms, who was also stabbed during his office hours by a member of the public as well. In that case the motivation in that 2010 incident was against the Iraq War. In 2016, it was a right-wing figure. We do not know what it is in this case, this third incident, but you can imagine in any country in this - in the world it would be shocking, but it is particularly shocking in the U.K. where people expect stability, security, a sense of stability around their politics.

So Becky, a lot of questions because asked here and, of course, tributes pouring in for the family and for Sir David Amess, a very well-respected and known figure in his community.

ANDERSON: Yes, and I think it's important to just remind our viewers that this is a man who has been in politics for 40 years, but in response to the killing of Jo Cox in 2016 wrote that, you know, he now as do so many lawmakers, he said checks the locks on his doors. And he wrote that things have changed.

And this is something that we are hearing from so many lawmakers. Actual attacks, the idea of murder of a - of a sitting lawmaker is relatively rare in the U.K. Sadly, two attacks - two killings in five years, but it's relatively rare, but the idea of threats, be those both physical or verbal certainly across social media and online these days, sadly those are not as rare as people in the U.K. would hope that they would be.


And this will really reignite discussion about security for lawmakers and, indeed, what can be done to attempt to address these threats that are coming fast and furious not just at lawmakers. I mean, we do this on CNN on a regular basis. I mean, online trolling threats, verbal threats across online and social platforms are a plenty these days, but we're talking here specifically about an attack on a British lawmaker. What came out of the - of the Jo Cox murder that was useful let's say?

ABDELAZIZ: Well Becky, that was an absolutely shocking and horrific murder, and it happened at a time when the country was making a very big decision, whether or not to leave the E.U. So it really imbued the country with this sense of instability, this sense of fear because that man who took Jo Cox's life, he was later found essentially to be a Neo-Nazi. That's how he was described. He was looking at Nazi material and Nazi memorabilia before the attack. He was obviously influenced by very far-right ideologies.

So what came out of that? Well lawmakers will tell you not enough. You read that excerpt there from Sir David Amess, form his book where he talks about his own concerns over his own safety. Checking the locks as he says in his book after the murder of Jo Cox.

I've also spoken to other members of Parliament who've said that in recent years as the political climate has become more polarized, more divided, they've received constant threats on social media after Black Lives Matter.

I interviewed M.P. Diane Abbott, the longest-serving black Member of Parliament. She said she receives death threats on a very regular basis, and the concern for these politicians is it's very difficult to discern what is a real threat and what is an anonymous, not realistic threat online?

And that's the challenge for authorities as well. What is an anonymous, benign threat being sent to you on Twitter versus the gap of someone, a man like this showing up and stabbing a lawmaker in broad daylight? There's a huge gulf there.

I'll go back to my interview with, again, Member of Parliament Diane Abbott who told me she had her staff regularly working on social media to try to filter through the hate that she was receiving. This becomes a full-time job for some people to try to sift through this.

So imagine for the authorities trying to discern real threats from threats that are simply online that are not a true threat to these lawmakers. You also now are going to have a conversation about how lawmakers conduct themselves, how they're able to get into the public because that's the key question here, Becky. Can lawmakers meet with the public, meet with voters, and still be safe?

ANDERSON: Salma Abdelaziz, I'm going to let you go, and you can work your sources and get further detail to us as and when you get it. Thank you.

Reaction from those who knew David Amess is pouring in. This is from the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, and I quote, "This I the most devastating, horrific, and tragic news. David Amess was a kind and thoroughly decent man. And he was the most committed M.P. you could ever hope to meet. Words cannot adequately express the horror of what happened today. Right now, my heart goes out to David's family," and really those words reflected in so many of the tributes that are - that we have been reading out today.

Cyril Vanier is at Downing Street. We are expecting to hear from the British Prime Minister ahead of that. Ahead of that, Cyril, we've been hearing from so many - OK, we are actually hearing from Boris Johnson now. Let's listen in.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: M.P. who was killed in his constituency surgery in a church after almost 40 years of continuous service to the people of Essex and the whole of the United Kingdom. And the reason I think people are so shocked and saddened is above all he was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics, and he also had an outstanding record of passing laws to help the most vulnerable whether the people who were suffering from endometriosis passing laws to end cruelty to animals, or doing a huge amount to reduce the fuel poverty suffered by people up and down the country.

David was a man who believed passionately in this country and in its future. And we've lost today a fine public servant and a much loved friend and colleague, and our thoughts are very much today with his wife, his children, and his family.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what was the sense of shock when you and your colleague heard about this? This is not news, of course, that anyone was expecting to hear on a Friday at a constituency surgery, and somebody who, of course, has been, as you say, a conservative M.P. for a very long time, nearly 40 years. What was the reaction of you and your colleagues when that news filtered through?

JOHNSON: I think everybody was deeply shocked and heart-stricken, and our thoughts, as I said, are very much with his family, with his wife, with his children. And for the rest, I mean, we must really leave the police to get on with their investigation. Thank you very much. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And can I ask you also the Speaker of the House of Commons has said today, of course, he's shocked, saddened, distressed, too, but he says this also raises the issue of M.P. safety. Now we've had two M.P.s with two main parts in Westminster (ph) killed in the space of five years. This is a problem, isn't it? A logic (ph) problem that needs to be debate to protect democracy.

JOHNSON: I think what we need to do now is let the police get on with their investigation, and I'm sure that all those issues will be considered in the proper time, but this is - I think this is a moment for us to think of Sir David, his wife, his family, and our thoughts are very much with them. Thank you very much. Thank you.

ANDERSON: Well we - let's get back to just outside Downing Street and Cyril Vanier joining me there. And the Prime Minister not wanting to be drawn on whether this was - you know, the death of or a dark day for democracy, saying that at this point, I mean, it's quite clear that the police need to do their work, and we find out exactly why it is that a 25-year-old man walked into a constituency surgery midday, broad daylight in a Methodist church and stabbed to death a constituency M.P.

Cyril Vanier, tributes pouring in from other lawmakers today, very much reflecting the words of the Prime Minister. CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Tributes coming in from a broad spectrum of the British political class. Multiple former primer ministers have been speaking out. We just heard from Boris Johnson himself, of course, the current Prime Minister. You read the words of David Cameron, former conservative prime minister, just before we heard from the P.M. Theresa May also took to Twitter saying this, "Heartbreaking to hear of the death of Sir David Amess. A decent man and respected Parliamentarian killed in his own community while carrying out his public duties. A tragic day for our democracy. My thoughts and prayers are with David's family."

Many other words of expressing sadness, expressing shock, expressing anger from those who knew him, and Sir David Amess has been in public service for almost four decades. So there were many here, including in the Cabinet, who knew him. Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer tweeted, "The worst aspect of violence is its inhumanity. It steals joy from the world and can take from us that which we love the most. Today it took a father and a husband and a respected colleague."

Becky, also I want to read you the words of Carrie Johnson, the wife, of course, of Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister. She said this. "Absolutely devastating news about Sir David Amess. He was hugely kind and good. An enormous animal lover and a true gent. This is so completely unjust. Thoughts are with his wife and their children."

So yes, Becky. Thoughts, prayers, and sympathies being expressed across the political spectrum.

ANDERSON: There will be questions about what can be done around the security for British lawmakers and, of course, sadly this is the second sitting British lawmaker who has lost their lives in the past five years. Jo Cox, a Labor M.P., losing her life just before the British Brexit referendum.

Those calls will be made. We are already hearing them on social media at this point. We've been discussing whether there were any consequences as far as beefed up security, both for M.P.s' physical security and, indeed, the sort of threats of security from the threats that they get online and on social media, and it seems to me that we're sort of having the same conversation that we were having in the wake of Jo Cox's death, and not a lot seems to have been done.

VANIER: Look, Becky. Those are all great questions, and there wasn't in the end when you think about it and when you look at what happened today, you have to conclude that there wasn't a great deal of security that was added. Certainly not enough.


Yes, there were some measures like, for instance, taking the names ahead of time of those who were coming to the surgeries to meet with their M.P.s, things like that, but at the end of the day the basic way that this works is still five years after the murder of Jo Cox the fact that constituents can walk up on a weekly basis to a surgery and have face time with their lawmakers. And this really is a pillar of British democracy. I think everyone in the country whether it's M.P.s, whether it's constituents want it to continue working these way, and that likely is the reason why it still did up to today. I'm not one to speculate as to whether that will change, how that will change, what security measures can be put in place, but that democratic exchange between lawmaker and constituents has been going on and will need, I dare say, Becky, to continue.

What security measure can be brought in place so that people are screened more efficiently, clearly those answers were not answered - those questions were not answered after the murder of Jo Cox, certainly not in a satisfactory manner when you see what happened today, and all these questions are going to be reignited about what more can be done to protect M.P.s.

Boris Johnson, as you noted, would not be drawn on this topic of security, has his government, have previous governments, including that of Theresa May, his predecessor, have these governments done enough to protect lawmakers, those who represent their constituents and represent the voices of the British people in Parliament. Very much an open question at this stage, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, and the Speaker of the House of Commons alluding to this just in the past few minutes. Security for British members of Parliament will need to be discussed in the coming days said Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons following the deadly stabbing of the lawmaker Sir David Ames. "I'm shocked and deeply distressed by his killing." He said in a statement, "David was a lovely, devoted man, devoted to his family, to Parliament, and to his constituents. He was well-liked by members and staff alike, and during his almost four decades he built a reputation for kindness and generosity."

Thank you, Cyril. CNN Producer Nada Bashir joining us now from Leigh- on-Sea. You are on the scene, Nada. What can you tell us?

NADA BASHIR, CNN PRODUCER: Well Becky, this is a very quiet seaside town just east of London, and it has been quite a shock to the local community. As you can see behind me we're just outside the Methodist church where this M.P. was murdered just around midday today, and people have been coming as we've been here leaving flowers, balloons, coming to see the scene. Many members of this local community completely shocked and shaken by the incident that's taken place.

And this lawmaker was very well-known to the local community. Many here come regularly to speak to their lawmakers. This is very custom in the U.K. to come for that open forum of discussion.

And as Cyril just mentioned, you know, this has really brought into question the risk of putting these politicians in this open sort of forum with members of the public, but I can tell you now the media has gathered here.

There are numerous police vans, vehicles, police helicopters nearby as well. Although the police have said that they are not searching for any further people involved in this crime, just the 25-year-old man who has so far been identified and held in custody for that murder, but they are appealing to members of this local community, local residents to see if they may have seen anything that was suspicious ahead of the crime that was committed or perhaps have any CCTV footage or dash cam footage that they might be able to share with the police officers who will be carrying out the investigation into this brutal, devastating murder that took place just behind me about 50 meters away. Becky -

ANDERSON: You're describing the shock that the community feel. We've spoken to two Parish priests who say that they will provide support in their churches this weekend for the local community. This will have a real impact, won't it, locally.

BASHIR: Yes, absolutely. I mean, this is a very small, close-knit community, and the idea of having a local lawmaker attacked in such way in a public forum like this is really devastating. Shaken many of the local residents here, but it will obviously send a message across the country.

And of course, this comes just over five years after the murder of Jo Cox, another Labor M.P. who was stabbed and killed, and that has really shaken the country and brought into question the security measures that are put in place.

We do know that a mass is going to be held in memory of David Amess, and we do know that members of the community have been gathering, coming here to show their support, and really just gathering together in this very sad moment.

Many are still piling just beside me now coming in to leave flowers and balloons. People here are really, really devastated. Becky -


ANDERSON: Nada, thank you. Well joining me now is Conservative M.P. Shailesh Vara. She is on the phone. Just tell us what you knew about David Amess. Just describe your fellow lawmaker.

SHAILESH VARA, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE M.P.: It's actually a he, but that's incidentally (ph) -


ANDERSON: Oh, I'm so sorry. Apologies.

VARA: -- (inaudible) not at all. I mean, David was a very kind and thoughtful man and a dear friend, and first and foremost, my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones at this awful time.

And I think the fact that members of Parliament across the political divide in the U.K. have been coming out with wonderful comments reflects the fact that we have lost a very, very important and senior parliamentarian.

David was a Member of Parliament for nearly 40 years, an outstanding constituency M.P., and his contribution to Parliament over the period had been immense. On a personal he was a dear and personal friend, and his warmth and generosity to me personally has always been there.

I remember when I first got elected from 17 years ago he was one of the first M.P.s to approach me and say that, you know, if I needed some help or advice his door was always open. And in subsequent general elections when we've had new M.P.s coming in, I've seen that same generosity extended to so many other new members of Parliament.

And David's office was literally around the corner to where mine is, and we would often walk towards the Parliamentary Chamber together when there were votes and talk about things. But what was extraordinary about him is that he was always busy, and there was just so much he still had that he wanted to do. And I shall miss him enormously as I know so many other people will.

ANDERSON: Shailesh Vara, your words are so important as our viewers get to know a man who was clearly so loved by his constituents, by his colleagues, and our hearts and prayers, of course, go out to his family and friends.

And we have, of course, been talking about the issue of security for lawmakers. This in the wake of the death of Jo Cox five years ago. We've been making the point, sir, that this is very unusual in the U.K., but of course, two killings of sitting members of Parliament in five years is shocking. How do you feel about your own security and that of your colleagues at this point? And should more be done to protect you both physically and, indeed, from threats online and on social media?

VARA: Becky, you raise a number of security issues there. First and foremost on a personal level I think it's fair to say that very single Member of Parliament has experience abuse online and letters and emails that we get addressed to our offices, and also subject to physical abuse and threats outside.

I've certainly had occasion when I felt it necessary to inform the police that it would be helpful if they were there, and they've always been there at meetings when I've wanted them.

I think we have a difficulty in trying to be 100 percent secure because there is that one element of the contact between a Member of Parliament and her or his constituents which had been fundamental that the Member of Parliament is accessible by the public. And, of course, we used to have letters and a lot more now by emails and so on, but nevertheless there are some people who want to personally meet their Member of Parliament, so there is that issue.

But the other issue that needs to be borne in mind is that I'm not sure that we can ever be 100 percent safe. For example, in this instance David Amess and, indeed, Jo Cox, both of them were killed when they were having their surgeries, and surgeries are basically the opportunity when the public can come and have - can meet their members of Parliament and address various issues.

But, of course, we do more than surgeries. For example, a few days ago I was attending a particular event, and it had been advertised beforehand saying that Shailesh Vara, Member of Parliament, will be coming onto this even, and it was an open event. So at what extent to we police everywhere we go?


That is going to be difficult. And so, there is that balance in striking - striking a balance in terms of making sure that we as representatives of the people who elect us are accessible, which is important in a democracy. But on the other hand making sure that there is proper security.

Also, of course, we have to bear in mind that our staff are with us. When I have surgeries there is a member of staff with me, so we have an obligation for security and protection for our staff as well.

It's difficult, but it's something that I know is always constantly being reviewed in terms of what more can we do to prevent people like or instances like this happening.

ANDERSON: And we don't know what motivated this 25-year-old man to stab Sir David Amess to death, but I wonder do you reflect on this? And I know this, you know, only hours ago did we find out about the tragic loss of life here, but do you reflect on this being an attack on democracy? I mean, how do you feel about this?

VARA: Well you're quite right, Becky, to say that we don't know the circumstances, and, of course, there are people who have health issues as well, mental health issues, and that may be a cause rather a particular ideology. So we just don't know, but in terms of where we go from this and in terms of an attack on democracy, I think the element of democracy is that it is an open society and people are allowed to have freedom of speech.

But I think what we need to recognize in a democracy it has to be done verbally. It has to be done by speaking. Yes, we can disagree with each other, but let's do that in a measured - and yes, we can debate robustly and have opposing views, but never should it resort to violence. And that line has been crossed with David and previously with Jo Cox, and there was some 10 years ago another Member of Parliament, Stephen Timms, and he was attacked at the surgery scenario as well.

So there is that element of lawmakers, members of Parliament, and in your case, Congress, women and men, and other representatives across the world. It is a balance that needs to be struck, and I'm not sure we've got the right balance, but we do need to be evermore vigilant.

ANDERSON: Sir, it is a great pleasure having you on. I'm so sorry that we are discussing such a sad and tragic event, but your thoughts, your analysis, and your insight extremely important. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us, and we are so sorry.

Britain shocked by the sudden public murder of one of its lawmakers. We'll continue our in-depth coverage of this just after this short break. Do stay with us.



ANDERSON: Well, reaction is pouring in now, following the fatal stabbing of British Lawmaker Sir David Ames, 69-year-old Conservative Party Member, was at a

constituency meeting east of London when witnesses say, a man walked in with a knife and stabbed him multiple times. Amess died at the scene.

Police say they've arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of murder. While he had -- Amess had written about lawmakers' security following the murder of fellow MP Jo Cox back in 2016 and a book he published last year. He wrote such attacks was spoiling the Great British tradition of the people openly meeting their elected politicians.

Well, that is exactly what he was doing when he was killed. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's wife Carrie Johnson is among the many people paying tribute to Sir David. She tweeted he was hugely kind and good, an enormous animal lover and a true gent. This is so completely unjust.

Salma Abdelaziz joining us now from London. And Selma, do if you will, fill us in on exactly what we know about what happened in Leigh-On-Sea just after midday, local time today?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely Becky. I mean, this country is absolutely reeling after this devastating and horrific attack. We're still waiting for more details but what we know so far is that Member of Parliament, a conservative Member of Parliament, Sir David Amess was having, essentially what our open office hours what are called surgery hours here at about noon, local time at a local church in the county of Essex, which is just east of London. A few minutes afternoon, a man entered that church where he was meeting with voters where this MP was meeting with voters, and he was stabbed multiple times by that attacker.

Those eyewitnesses quickly contacted authorities, police and ambulances arrived at the scene and tried to save Amess' life. Unfortunately, though, he did die there at the scene with air ambulances overhead that could not make it to him in time.

The 25-year-old man, that suspect has been arrested. He is now in custody and was charged with murder. We do not know his name. We do not know his identity. We do not know his motivations. But there's huge concern here of course, first and foremost for the family. Amess was a father of five, a well-respected and well-known figure in his community. He served in politics for almost 40 years, first elected to Parliament in 1983, a respected figure again. So, tributes now pouring in for his family and his community. Amess is supposed to take place at his church in a short time. He was practicing Catholic, so just the tragedy of imagining that brutal murder in the middle of daylight out of church. You can imagine right now, Becky, that community in shock reeling questions being asked and condolences and love being poured into his family and his community.

ANDERSON: Another politician murdered while trying to fulfil his duty as a public official. Thank you, Salma. Let's bring in Pauline Latham who is MP for Mid Derbyshire. And your reaction to this terribly sad news today?

PAULINE LATHAM, CONSERVATIVE MP, MID DERBYSHIRE (on the phone): Well, I think along with all my colleagues, I'm absolutely devastated. But such a wonderful person, such as David Amess should be murdered in such brutal way. He was going about his business. He was doing his job which he was elected democratically to do. And nobody should try to stop that because we are supposed to live in a really civilized society here and this is not civilized, and this should never, ever have happened to him. He was one of those people that move, you won't have a word to say about him. He was a very kind man. He never had a crossword that I have ever heard. He was never easily irritated by people. He was just in very genuinely lovely man. And it's just such an awful thing to have happened.


ANDERSON: You are a member of parliament, do you have concerns about your own security? Do you fear that there is some loss of what is and has always been a, you know, a very free society in the U.K.?

LATHAM: Yes, we we've always, I mean, MPs have had surgeries regularly with constituents, we've had lots of meetings with constituents, and nobody's ever really worried about it, the first time we really started worrying about it was when Jo Cox was murdered on her way into a surgery. So, in a very similar circumstance. And that's only five years ago. So that's two MPs in five years who've been murdered brutally. And we do have to look now to see how we can be safe, because I noticed the David Amess tweeted out when his surgery was going to be, where it was going to be. But I do understand it was an appointment surgery. So, this person probably had an appointment. I mean, I don't know that but probably did, and went in, and there would have been staff members who would have witnessed what happened to him. And they will be devastated.

I mean, as well as his colleagues, but he's a family with five children, they're going to be -- well, and the wife obviously was absolutely devastated by this whole thing. And it does bring into question, what value is democracy? If we truly value democracy, we have to protect it. And I don't know where that's going to lead us. But I certainly, since Jo Cox was murdered, I've been much more careful about where I've been, and who I've met. So, it's going to call into question the safety and security of members of parliament, who are only doing their job. That's all they're doing. It's their job, to the best of their ability. And he certainly would have done that.

ANDERSON: Need to remind our viewers that it isn't clear what the motivation for this attack was. It could be that somebody had mental health issues or something else aside from, you know, and it was politically motivated. That of course, will become clear as we move through the coming hours. And we are expecting to hear from the local police. But I just wanted to -- on a day like today, I have to ask you, as MP for Mid Derbyshire, is it worth it? Is the job worth it? LATHAM: Well, of course, democracy is worth it. And those of us who put ourselves in that position, believe in democracy, otherwise, we wouldn't put ourselves up for election. But it is something that we are going to have to look at in the future. But I think at the moment, main thoughts are with the family who are suffering this absolutely devastating loss today.

And we'll find it very hard to come to terms with what's happening to the father and husband. It's just a terrible thing. But we have to value democracy, we cannot let democracy go. We can't let people with mental health issues, attackers in this way. There has to be more protection. There's got to be more we can do. And in terms of mental health issues, I think the lockdowns we've had over COVID haven't helped with that. But it doesn't matter what mental health issues, nobody should be going out to murder somebody. That's more than straightforward mental health issues in my view. And of course, with social media as it is we're all threatened all the time on social media, and it isn't very pleasant. So, at some point, someone's got to say enough is enough. We're going to have to do something about it to make sure that democracy which is very precious can be maintained.

ANDERSON: Pauline Latham is the MP for Mid Derbyshire. My family is from that area. We wish you the best and we are so sorry for the loss of one of your dear colleagues today.

CNN Producer Nada Bashir joining us now from the scene of the murder today. Nada, just describe the atmosphere there for us if you will and what more you know of the details of this attack?

NADA BASHIR, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Becky, this local community here, and indeed, the entire country, are so shaken by the news of the murder of David Amess and this is a very close to small seaside town just east of London.


And this is really sort of an unheard tragic event that has really shaken those who live nearby. And you can see just behind me about 50 meters away is the Methodist Church where David Amess was brutally stabbed and killed. And here just beside me is a very heavy police presence. There is a series of police officers, media, and indeed a number of police vehicles all blocking and coordinating this area where police continue to investigate the situation.

Now, we do know that a 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder of David Amess, but this community here is still so shaken by the news despite the fact that the police have said that no other suspects are currently being investigated or looked into.

And members of the community have been coming up, leaving flowers and balloons behind me, behind this police quarter coming to express their sympathies with the families, David Amess, and indeed this local community coming by to leave those flowers in his memory. Becky,

ANDERSON: Do we -- are we aware as of yet as to when the police are likely to make, give us another statement or do we know when we will hear from the police at this point?

BASHIR: We are expected to hear from the local police force Essex police later on today. But what they have told us at this stage is that they're not taking any further suspects. But they have appealed to local residents calling for anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in this local area or who may have seen, have CCTV footage or dashcam footage from their cars, who may be able to provide crucial evidence to the police as they continue to piece together this puzzle as part of this investigation, looking into the motives and what causes murder. But as mentioned earlier, I mean this is going to raise serious concerns about the security and safety of lawmakers here in the U.K. as mentioned, as the David Amess was just carrying out a general surgery with his residence with his constituents. That's just a general forum where members of his local community and voters can come forward and express their concerns in the local community, speak to their local elected lawmaker.

And this is a very ordinary common thing in the U.K. It happens often, and it's really raising serious concerns as to whether or not local lawmakers and proponents are really putting themselves at risk, putting themselves in that very public forum. So, of course, we do expect the police to comment on what's happened tonight. But there will be questions for the police as to what security is being offered for these lawmakers going forward. Becky?

ANDERSON: Nada Bashir is in Leigh-On-Sea, just outside the Methodist Church where the local constituency MP today was stabbed to death. Thank you, Nada.

Flags across parliament, have been lowered to half-staff following the news of the killing of Sir David Amess. The U.K. is now a country in mourning, officially this killing is beyond politics and quite frankly beyond reason. He was and will be missed by his family, his colleagues, his friends, and all who knew him said Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who is the Speaker of the House, Houses of Parliament, our thoughts are with them all, he said.

Well, many of our guests telling us how highly regarded David Amess was and the tweets of condolences to his family are pouring in, including this one from the Shadow Business Secretary for the Labor Party, Ed Miliband. He says, "Devastating and awful news about Sir David Amess. He was kind, decent and simply doing the job he loved. A terrible loss. My deep condolences and love to his family and friends.

I'm Becky Anderson, you're watching breaking news coverage here on CNN. We'll be back with more after this.



ANDERSON: British police are trying to determine the motive right now and what was a brazen killing of a long serving British Member of Parliament David Amess was meeting with constituents east of London at about midday today when, witnesses say, a man with a knife came in and stabbed him multiple times. He died at the scene. Police have arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of murder, and they have recovered the knife.

The motive for the attack though is not clear. Amess was first elected to Parliament in 1983. He was knighted in 2015 for his service to the public and to politics.

With me now is Southend Counsellor, John Lamb. Describe the man that you knew, John.


ANDERSON: Unfortunately, it sounds if --

LAMB: -- and for the constituency.

ANDERSON: John Lamb, apologies and we were just having a slight technical issue, our and not yours, I think. And so, I didn't catch all of what you said. But I know that you knew Sir David Amess well. And what sort of impact will this have on the community clearly, and this is devastating for his family, his five children and his friends, you know the community well as well. How will they cope?

LAMB: Oh, it is, as you said, devastating because so many people knew David, you know, for all the good work that he did and tried to help everyone out. He was someone that was involved with from (inaudible) and so on. He would support -- he used to hold the Centenarians Tea Part to bring all the centenarians in the town and have a tea party with them during the year. It was that type of thing. He was very much community-orientated, and he just loved working for the people of Southend.

ANDERSON: John, it's been important speaking to you today. I want to let you go because the sound between you and me isn't brilliant and we have slight technical issues, but we very much appreciate your thoughts today. And we're going to take a very short break, back after this, when we come back, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says David Amess was one of the kindest, nicest most gentle people in politics, more after this.



ANDERSON: Well, Amess is now set for 6 p.m. London time just moments from now for the slain British lawmakers, Sir David Amess set at his local Catholic church. He was fatally stabbed today, as he met with constituents in Leigh-On-Sea which is east of London. A 25-year-old man has been arrested and police have recovered the knife they believe was the murder weapon. Amess was one of Britain's longest serving Members of Parliament and tributes have been pouring in from across the United Kingdom and beyond. The British Prime Minister spoke about David Amess and his death a short time ago.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The reason I think people are so shocked and saddened is, above all, he was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics. And he also had an outstanding record of passing laws to help the most vulnerable whether the people who were suffering from endometriosis, passing laws to end cruelty to animals or doing a huge amount to reduce the fuel poverty suffered by people, often up and down the country.

David was a man who believe passionately in this country, and in its future. And we've lost today, a fine public servant and a much-loved friend and colleague. And our thoughts are very much today with his wife, his children and his family.


ANDERSON: CNN's Cyril Vanier is at the British Prime Minister's residence just outside 10 Downing Street in London, and there has been an enormous amount of tribute pouring in for this sitting Member of Parliament and most of what we've heard very much reflected there by the British Prime Minister, Cyril?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, absolutely, Becky. In fact, when you go through these tributes, that is what is striking, that is what stands out. That's what people say about Sir David Amess, is that he was kind and that he was gentle.

Listen to this, a lovely, lovely man. This is from the U.K. foreign secretary, a good gentle man, he showed charity and compassion to all his every word, marked by kindness, this is Michael Gove. A hugely kind and good a true gent, said Carrie Johnson, the wife of the British Prime Minister, and also this, one of life's truly nice people always ready to get his help, this from Brandon Lewis, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. So, this is really something -- this is the common thread among all these tributes is this man's character.

So, David Amess' personality, the way in which he conducted himself through public life, he was knighted, of course, in 2015 for his public service, and that today is what people remember, almost four decades of giving his time, his effort, his ingenuity to the constituents that he cared for, because that is really what comes out of these tributes, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yeah, I'm just reading a tweet from someone who isn't in politics, or certainly doesn't advertise herself as such, and you don't have to be in politics to agree or not, with somebody else's point of view. She said, I didn't agree with much of David Amess' politics, but reading tributes from his community I'm strongly reminded that someone who's politics, you don't agree with can also be an excellent person. Let's try harder to remember this going forward. And that struck me today as I read it, because the U.K. is increasingly a polarized country. Look, we have to remind our viewers that we do not know what motivated the attacker to stab David Amess today, who he lost his life as a result of that. So, we don't know whether this was politically motivated or not.


But I think it's telling -- I'm reading so much on social media that reminds us that we need to remember to be just gentler and kinder. And, you know, I think you and I reading the same sort of things, you know, you don't have to share the same ideology to remember that people can be decent human beings, their security, of course, that of other lawmakers will be in question today, David -- Cyril, without a shadow of a doubt.

VANIER: Oh, there's no question about that, Becky, because you've been talking at length about the murder of Jo Cox, former -- the late labor lawmaker who was shot to death in 2016.

Well, at the time, it was still possible to believe that perhaps that was just an outlier that was just one of those freak occurrences, but when you have two MPs now who are murdered in the space of five years, I think that illusion is proven to be just that, that illusion is shattered Becky, and it is no longer just an outlier. There is -- I think there is going to be a before and an after. It is not possible after something like this. two murders of MPs within five years to let MPs continue their business as usual.

And, of course, this is going to have to be -- this is going to have to be balanced against the needs that MPs have to interact with their constituents, with ordinary people. They are after all the interface between the voters and the circles of power in which the MPs carry the voices of their voters. So, it is essential, it is primordial, Becky, for them to be able to interact, you know, casually freely with ordinary people. As against that, clearly there is a need for greater security.


VANIER: It is not normal, that someone can walk up to a lawmaker in this country with a knife and stabbed them to death, neither was it normal five years ago for someone to be able to shoots the labor lawmaker.

ANDERSON: I'm going to have to interrupt you there, I realized that you had lost your EPS (ph) and I'm going to need to take a very short break but thank you, Cyril, for your analysis here.

In just a few minutes, we are expecting to get an update from the police in Essex, we'll bring that to you live. I'm Becky Anderson. You are watching CNN.