Jack Merritt at his graduationJack Merritt

Jack Merritt, 25, was a course coordinator for the Institute of Criminology’s Learning Together programme. He was described by his father as a “beautiful spirit”, and a “champion for underdogs everywhere”.

He added, "Jack spoke so highly of all the people he worked with & he loved his job”. On Monday, a minute of silence will be held outside the Guildhall in Cambridge at 11am, which the public is welcomed to join.

Jack Merritt was killed on Friday in the London Bridge attack.

Jack was from Cambridge, and studied at Hills Road Sixth Form College. He graduated from the University of Manchester with a bachelor's degree in Law in 2016, and went on to complete an MPhil in Criminology at Hughes Hall before beginning to work with the Learning Together programme. 

The Learning Together programme seeks to “bring together people in criminal justice and higher education institutions to study alongside each other in inclusive and transformative learning communities”. Launched in 2014 by Dr Ruth Armstrong and Dr Amy Ludlow of the Institute of Criminology, the programme works with 23 partner institutions and offers courses in more than a dozen prisons.

Merritt was a firm advocate of prison reform and rehabilitation. Writing on Twitter last year, he said: “All too often people also want prison as a form of retribution, to go beyond punishment and to inflict harm or revenge. It is a perspective that is poisonous and backwards.”

In his father’s statement on Twitter on Saturday, he wrote: “My son, Jack, who was killed in this attack, would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily.”

In a statement on Sunday, Cambridge’s Vice-chancellor Stephen Toope wrote, "I am sad beyond words. 

“Our condolences, our thoughts and our deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families. We will be providing all the support we can to our colleagues, including counselling for staff and students who are affected by the event.”

Interviewed by the BBC earlier this year as part of a podcast exploring Learning Together’s work, Jack spoke about the importance of the programme, and outlined its key steps and principles.

The interview was conducted by BBC journalist and former lawyer Joshua Rozenberg, who described Jack as “a fine young man, dedicated to improving people’s lives”. 

Responding to Rozenberg’s remarks, barrister Tim Storrie tweeted: “Utterly lost for words. I too met him at Warren Hill. His open heartedness, his drive and his faith in the redemption of prisoners through education shone out. He saved lives through his work.”

Solicitor Audrey Ludwig, who said that she had known jack over a period of 12 months as they discussed “possible collaboration”, and had visited one of the prisons he worked in, wrote that his “deep commitment to prisoner education and rehabilitation was deeply impressive”. 

Dr Hannah Quirk, who taught Merritt at Manchester and wrote his Cambridge reference, said: “He was an exceptional student and a lovely young man. I am so sorry for your loss.”

The Prison Radio Association – a prison-based charity which operates National Prison Radio, a radio station which broadcasts programmes made by and for inmates in over 100 prisons in the UK – issued a statement saying: “Jack Merritt played a small but important role in one of our early podcasts, The Brief, explaining the law to people in prison. He was generous with his time and all too happy to help others. His life should inspire us all. The criminal justice community is in deep shock.”

The rapper Dave, whose full name is David Orobosa Omoregie, wrote on Twitter, “Rest in peace brother.” He described Jack Merritt as “the best guy” who “dedicated his life to helping others.”

Dave's Mercury Prize-winning album was inspired by the rehabilitation therapy that his brother received while serving a life sentence. 

Serena Wright, a lecturer in criminology at Royal Holloway University, wrote on Twitter: “David, I knew your son through Learning Together and I loved him to pieces – he was the sweetest, most caring and selfless individual I’ve ever met. The warmest heart, always with time for anyone. Completely irreplaceable – I will mourn his loss greatly and honour his memory.”

David Merritt wrote on Saturday: “Cambridge has lost a proud son and a champion for underdogs everywhere, but especially those dealt a losing hand by life, who ended up in the prison system.”

If you have been affected by the content of this article, the following links offer support and resources: the NHS guide to bereavement, Cruse bereavement care local support services, The Samaritans 24-hour helpline.

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