Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones were both Cambridge alumniJACK MERRITT

Content Note: This article contains discussion of terrorism.

The inquest into the 2019 terror attack at Fishmongers’ Hall, which resulted in two deaths, reached its verdict today (28/05). The jury found that the victims – Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones – were unlawfully killed by Usman Khan.

The attack took place on 29 November 2019 at the Learning Together conference, a programme run by the University which offers rehabilitation courses for prisoners. Merritt and Jones were respectively working and volunteering for Learning Together at the time, while Khan was invited as an alumnus of the course.

Khan had been released from prison 11 months previously, having spent 8 years in prison for terror offences.

As well as the deaths of Jones and Merrit, the attack resulted in three others being hospitalised for their injuries. The jury thanked “the astonishing individuals who put themselves in real danger to help.”

The jury concluded that there was evidence of “missed opportunities for those with expertise and experience to give guidance” in the probation of Khan prior to the attack. They also found that there was “unacceptable management and lack of accountability” shown by MI5, the police, and probation service following Khan’s release from prison.

After the conclusions of the inquest, the forewoman of the jury spoke about the jurors’ sorrow of the loss of Merritt and Jones, sending “heartfelt condolences” to their families. “We are so incredibly sorry. The world lost two bright stars that dreadful day,” she continued.

Khan was under priority investigation from MI5 after his release from prison in December 2018. While the multi-agency public protection arrangements (Mappa) had intelligence in late 2018 that Khan might “return to his old ways”, this information was not shared with community officers overseeing Khan’s probation.

The gap in communication between security services and those directly overseeing Khan’s probation allowed him to attend the Learning Together event unattended, despite indications that he may pose a risk. The jury also found that the conference itself had inadequate security arrangements.


Mountain View

Inquest begins into the deaths of Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones

The jury concluded that authorities had a “blind spot to Khan’s unique risks due to ‘poster boy’ image and lack of psychological assessment posts released from prison”.

Philip Jones, the uncle of Saskia Jones, said “it is beyond understanding and astonishing that not one of the state agencies sufficiently considered the associated risk and therefore questioned the wisdom of sending Khan unaccompanied to London.”

Meanwhile, Jack Merritt’s father Dave Merritt criticised Mappa for its failings as “roles and responsibilities were unclear, communication between the agencies was inadequate, and leadership and coordination were weak.”

He added: “The probation and police teams directly responsible for Khan’s supervision were staffed by officers with little or no experience of terrorism offenders.”

Neil Basu, head of UK counter-terrorism policing, apologised for police failings in the monitoring of Khan, saying that “omissions or failures in the management of the attacker, and in the sharing of information and guidance by the agencies responsible, is simply unacceptable, and I am so deeply sorry we weren’t better than this in November 2019.”