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UK MP murder suspect ‘focused other MPs’

A man on trial for the murder of UK parliamentarian David Amess had planned other attacks, including on cabinet minister Michael Gove, a London court has been told.

Ali Harbi Ali, 26, a British citizen and son of an ex-media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia, is on trial for murder and preparing terrorist acts.

Prosecutors said Ali had spent years planning an attack and had previously carried out reconnaissance on Gove and Conservative MP Mike Freer.

Ali “researched and planned potential attacks on Members of Parliament and the Houses of Parliament,” Tom Little, a lawyer for the prosecution, told the court on the opening day of the trial.

“This included specific reconnaissance trips to a constituency surgery of Mike Freer and to the home address of Michael Gove.”

The killing of 69-year-old Amess, a married father of five children, sent shockwaves through Westminster and led to calls for better security for members of parliament, coming just five years after another MP was murdered on the street.

UK MPsl regularly hold “surgeries,” or one-to-one meetings, with voters in their constituencies, a tradition considered a bedrock of democracy.

But with little or no security and an emphasis on access for all, surgeries can make MPs vulnerable.

On October 15, Ali made an appointment to meet Amess who was holding a constituency surgery at the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, northeast of London, on the pretext he had recently moved to the area.

At their meeting in an office at the back of the church, he tried to engage Amess in conversation about foreign policy and was seen using his mobile phone.

According to a member of Amess’ staff who was present, he then apologised, produced a knife and stabbed him.

Amess was first elected to parliament to represent the town of Basildon in 1983, and then nearby Southend West in 1997.

He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2015 for his public service.

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