The family of a young man stabbed to death by a convicted terrorist are suing the government over alleged failures to manage the attacker in the community.
Jack Merritt, 25, was fatally stabbed along with Saskia Jones, 23, by Usman Khan during a prisoner rehabilitation event at Fishmongers’ Hall in London on 29 November last year.
Khan, 28, was out on licence when he attended the event near London Bridge, organised by Cambridge University’s Learning Together programme. He was armed with two kitchen knives and wearing a fake suicide vest.
In the wake of the attack, Merritt’s father accused the government of using his son’s death to further their “agenda of hate” in a scathing article written for the Guardian.
Four days ahead of the first anniversary of Merritt’s death, his parents, Anne and David, his brother, Joe, and his girlfriend, Leanne O’Brien, filed a high court claim against the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Home Office.
The family are bringing a claim under the Human Rights Act. The family solicitor, Kate Maynard, a partner at Hickman and Rose, said: “Usman Khan was a convicted terrorist under multi-agency public protection when he killed Jack and Saskia on 29 November 2019.
“These circumstances raise questions about the assessment and management of Usman Khan’s risk.”
Maynard said that “where state agents or public bodies, by their acts or omissions, may have caused or contributed to a death”, the right to life under the European convention on human rights is engaged.
Claims brought under the Human Rights Act must be brought within one year, which meant the Merritt family had to bring their case this week to “protect their position”, Maynard said.
She added that such civil cases are “often” resolved after an inquest “without involving the courts at all”.
But Maynard said: “In this case, all the relevant public bodies who are legally represented at the inquest and were approached agreed to a limitation holiday for one year, except – unfathomably – the secretaries of state for justice and the home department (Home Office).
“Regrettably, this left the family with no alternative but having to turn their minds to protecting their position by issuing proceedings, at a time when they were otherwise focusing their attention on celebrating Jack’s life on the anniversary of his death.”