James Grundy MP: In memory of Sir David Amess MP
Last Friday, just after midday, staff at my office started to receive calls asking if I was alright.
My staff were puzzled rather than frightened, having seen me leave the office moments before as I walked into Leigh town centre to grab some lunch from the Waterfield’s bakery a few hundred yards down the road from my constituency office.
The source of this confusion was the terrible news that Sir David Amess, the long-serving and popular MP for Southend West, had been stabbed while holding his constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, and some people had misunderstood this as being my constituency of Leigh.
My staff moved swiftly to put out a post on social media to ensure that the issue was clarified quickly, and I called my elderly parents to inform them of the incident, wanting to make sure that they did not accidentally mishear the news on the radio as others who rang my office had.
Shortly afterwards, the awful news came through that Sir David had died of his wounds.
Within half an hour, I and every other MP had received a phone call from a senior police officer asking us about our security arrangements, whether we were happy with them and what more could be done.
I decided that I would continue with my constituency surgery that afternoon, but thanked the police for their concern, and thankfully, the event went without incident.
Sir David Amess was killed while doing his duty as a public servant and MP, seeking only to help members of the public.
He was murdered whilst holding his constituency surgery in a local church, pointlessly, cruelly and apparently at random, by someone apparently seeking nothing more than attention. I refuse to give it.
Sir David was a very well-liked and industrious constituency MP, first for Basildon from 1983, and then, after boundary changes, for Southend West from 1997 up until his death.
I first met David Amess in the unlikeliest of places, at Cardiff station in 2005, during the General Election of that year.
He appeared at the head of a vast crowd of Southend football fans who were disembarking the train and seemed entirely at home among them.
Even then David was a recognisable face among Conservative backbenchers, and I spoke to him for a little while, shook hands with him and wished him luck in the election.
He was very approachable and extremely likeable. He won his election comfortably of course.
When I met David again nearly 15 years later as a newly elected MP, he recalled that conversation at Cardiff station, and whenever I saw him around Parliament he would greet me with an amiable smile, asking how I was, as he did with so many others on both sides of the House.
He was a true gent and will be greatly missed.
I was pleased to see that Southend, the community he represented since 1997, will now be made a city in his honour, a cause David had campaigned for many years.
Sir David Amess was a dedicated public servant, who contributed massively to public life in the seat he represented.
The best tribute we as MPs can give him is to carry on serving the public in the manner that he did.
We must not be cowed into living in fortresses, hiding away from the public in hermetically sealed offices.
That is what those responsible for the death of Sir David want.
They cannot be allowed to win.
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