Jack Merritt worked for Learning Together, while Saskia Jones volunteered with the programmeJack Merritt / Metropolitan Police

Cambridge University has scrapped Learning Together, a programme that taught prisoners alongside students, after two Cambridge graduates were killed in the London Bridge terror attack in 2019.

Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were murdered by convicted terrorist Usman Khan at a Learning Together event at Fishmongers’ Hall in London to mark the fifth anniversary of the scheme.

The inquest into their deaths criticised Learning Together for allowing Khan, who was classed as high-risk and on probation at the time, to attend the event without a police escort. 

A University review of the programme chaired by the Master of Fitzwilliam College, Baroness Sally Morgan, concluded that it should be discontinued. The University’s General Board and its Council approved this recommendation last December.

The inquest into the deaths of Merritt and Jones heard that Khan was considered a “poster boy” for the programme as he appeared to have a reformed character after taking several of its courses while in jail. 

It concluded that this led to the collective failure of the police, MI5, the probation service, and Learning Together to prevent Khan from attending the conference at Fishmongers’ Hall.

The jury said that they had a “blind spot to Khan’s unique risks due to his ‘poster boy’ image and lack of psychological assessment post release from prison”.

In the months following the attack, the University established a number of working groups to look into the risk assessment and safeguarding processes for work with prisoners or ex-offenders within the university.


Mountain View

Cambridge commemorates two year anniversary of Fishmongers’ Hall terrorist attack

In a statement, it said that it had “strengthened its policies and process around risk assessment and working with people who have offended”, and that research in prisons will continue.

It added that the Institute of Criminology would not allow students to come into contact with serious offenders beyond research interviews, which would be risk-assessed, and that they would closely supervise any contact between students and offenders.

In their response to the coroner’s report, the co-directors of Learning Together, Dr Ruth Armstrong and Dr Amy Ludlow, said that their “personal and professional reflection, profound grief, and trauma is deep and ongoing following the tragedy of 29 November 2019.”

Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope said that even though the programme “helped change many lives for the better”, the London Bridge terrorist attack has “caused unimaginable grief”. 

“The consequences of violence continue to ripple outwards and create further harm. Today I am thinking again of the families and friends of Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, and the Learning Together community, who continue to suffer from the events of that dreadful day.”