The Conservatives ignored recommendations from one of their own justice ministers to create the conditions that allowed Usman Khan to be released – and have been attacked by the father of one of his victims for using the attack to spread their “vile propaganda”.
In an article in The Times, prison safety expert Ian Acheson – a committed Conservative who led the independent review of Islamist extremism in prisons and probation ordered by then-Justice Secretary Michael Gove in 2016. That’s four years after Usman Khan successfully appealed against his original, indefinite sentence and had a new sentence imposed under Conservative laws.
Mr Acheson stated that he made 68 findings and recommendations. These were reduced to 11 by the Tories, of which only eight became law.
In the article, he said: “Many of the recommendations I made related to what I saw as serious gaps in the management of terrorist offenders into custody and ‘through the gate’. There was a lack of expertise and appropriateness in the arrangements for probation supervision of these most potentially lethal offenders.”
He added in a Radio 4 interview that “a lethal combination of arrogance, ineptitude and defensiveness in Whitehall”, with “fearful” staff struggling because “training simply didn’t exist” led to “the destruction of the prison and probation service through crazy, failed, ideological, austerity cuts.”
So the Tories knew about problems with their own handling of people convicted of terrorism, two years before Khan was released.
Not only did the Tories ignore fears over the handling of terror convicts, but David Merritt, whose son Jack was one of Khan’s victims in the London Bridge terror attack, has accused Tory leader Boris Johnson of actually exploiting what happened for electoral purposes:
Don’t use my son’s death, and his and his colleague’s photos – to promote your vile propaganda. Jack stood against everything you stand for – hatred, division, ignorance. https://t.co/R8LO16lugk
— David Merritt (@butwhatifitsall) December 1, 2019
He also retweeted a post by writer Liam Hogan, which said: “Hey @BorisJohnson , instead of making capital on “tougher sentences”/no early release, why don’t you take a look at what Jack Merritt believed? Because he believed in prisoner rehabilitation, even if you don’t. (Unless presumably it suits your electoral purposes…)”
It’s a damning indictment of Johnson’s attitude.
This is a wannabe prime minister who would spit on the memory of a man who died as a result of his party’s policies, by promising to do exactly what this bright young man opposed.
The only consolation is that, knowing Boris Johnson, he is probably lying.
This is the lowest and most disgusting stunt performed by the Conservatives in their election campaign so far.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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