The father of Jack Merritt, who was killed in the London Bridge attack in November, has accused Boris Johnson of exploiting his son’s death for political gain.
In his first television interview since the attack on 28 November, David Merritt told Sky News that instead of “a tragedy, Boris Johnson saw an opportunity.”
He continued: “What was required [from Johnson] was just a dignified approach whereby the politicians would express their regrets. This wasn’t an election issue.
“Boris went on the offensive. He saw an opportunity to score some points, saying it was Labour’s fault, that they allowed it to happen.”
He went on to describe Johnson’s intervention as “ill-considered, almost like a knee-jerk reaction.”
Merritt said that he had looked online the morning after the attack and seen that people were already starting to jump on the “criminal justice bandwagon.”
He said that he could see the work that Jack and his colleagues starting to “unravel” in the aftermath of the attacks.
When asked whether he too was guilty of politicising his son’s death, Merritt said:
“If anyone has the right to say something, than it is me and my family. We have lost Jack.
“Had it been different and no comment was made, I would not have said anything.”
Merritt added that there had been no attempt from Number 10 to contact him or his family.
A police liaison officer had offered Merritt’s family the chance to meet home secretary Priti Patel, which the family declined.
A statement from Number 10 said: “The Prime Minister has expressed his deepest condolences to Mr Merritt for his tragic loss – an experience no family should have to go through.
“The Prime Minister’s view is that it is ‘extraordinary and wrong’ that Khan had been released halfway through his prison sentence and has long argued that sentencing should be tougher for violent and extremist offenders.”
David Merritt said that the fact that his son was known to his killer Usman Khan made it all the more “unbelievable.”
He added that telling his other son that his brother had died was “probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do” related to the incident.