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Cambridge vice-chancellor ‘devastated’ after terrorist attack

Image: foshie [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

London Bridge attack began at university event on prisoner rehabilitation

The University of Cambridge’s vice-chancellor has said he is “devastated” following a terrorist attack at London Bridge on Friday.

The knife attack, in which a man and a woman were killed, began just before 2pm at Fishmongers’ Hall, at an event organised by the university’s institute of criminology.

The victims were named as Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23. Three other people were hospitalised in the attack, including a university member of staff.

The Learning Together gathering was intended to be a “five-year celebration alumni event” of a prisoner rehabilitation programme, according to a post on the Eventbrite website. The attacker, named by police as 28-year-old Usman Khan, was out of prison on licence after being convicted in 2012 of terrorism offences. He was shot dead by police after being restrained by members of the public. He is understood to have been wearing a fake suicide vest and to have been attending the university event.

In a statement released overnight on Friday and later updated, vice-chancellor Stephen Toope said: “I am devastated to learn that today’s hateful attack on London Bridge may have been targeted at staff, students and alumni attending an event organised by the University of Cambridge’s institute of criminology.”

Toope said that the university was in touch with police and awaiting details of the victims. He said: “We mourn the dead and we hope for a speedy recovery for the injured. Our thoughts are with all their families and friends.” He later added: “What should have been a joyous opportunity to celebrate the achievements of this unique and socially transformative programme…was instead disrupted by an unspeakable criminal act.”

Universities minister Chris Skidmore added his condolences, saying: “My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families of this senseless act of terror. In this darkest time, we should never lose sight of the fact that education transforms and can save lives too. The Learning Together programme should be celebrated for this.”

This article has been updated. Further reporting on the incident can be found in our 8am Playbook for 2 December.