Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News UK

Man still held over Jo Cox murder as police probe right-wing extremism link

Published 17/06/2016

Labour MP Jo Cox has been remembered at vigils
Labour MP Jo Cox has been remembered at vigils

A man remains in police custody following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, as police revealed a link to right-wing extremism is a priority line of inquiry.

West Yorkshire Police said they are working with the North East Counter Terrorism Unit as the probe into the killing of the 41-year-old continues.

The mother of two was attacked in the street outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, near Leeds in West Yorkshire, at lunchtime on Thursday.

Tommy Mair, 52, was detained shortly after the attack and, having been cleared by medical professionals as being fit to be questioned, continues to be quizzed by detectives.

Among their "numerous" lines of inquiry, the force said they are also looking at the suspect's mental health in their bid to establish a motive for the fatal attack on the MP.

Temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins said: " A murder investigation is under way by West Yorkshire Police who are working together with the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, who will bring specialist assets in support of the inquiry.

"We are aware of the speculation within the media in respect of the suspect's link to mental health services and this is a clear line of inquiry which we are pursuing.

"We are also aware of the inference within the media of the suspect being linked to right-wing extremism which is again a priority line of inquiry which will help us establish the motive for the attack on Jo."

Ms Collins said it is believed the attack was "an isolated, but targeted" one and the person responsible is thought to have been acting alone.

The force said part of its investigation will be to establish how he was able to carry an unlawfully-held firearm.

Ms Collins said a 77-year-old man remains in a stable condition in hospital after he was injured when he "bravely intervened" in an effort to help Mrs Cox.

An eyewitness to the killing said he heard the attacker shout "put Britain first".

It has emerged a Thomas Mair has been named in a newsletter produced by a right-wing organisation which has called for a return to apartheid-style government in South Africa and been linked to the Neo-Nazi organisation National Alliance (NA) dating back to 1999.

Mair's brother Scott said he had a "history of mental illness, but he has had help" and both he and neighbours said he did not really speak about politics.

The owner of the Birstall Wellbeing Centre told the Telegraph Mair visited the evening before the killing " looking for alternative therapies for his depression".

Rebecca Walker said she had asked him to come back the next day.

She said: "He appeared to be quite a troubled man, didn't say very much to anyone while he was there."

Meanwhile it has emerged the MP's last words as she lay bleeding in the street were "my pain is too much".

The father of Mrs Cox's assistant Fazila Aswat has described how his daughter tried to comfort her after the attack, which left her bleeding copiously.

"She tried to help her, she tried to hit (the attacker) with her handbag but he tried to go at her. People came so he followed them and he came back again and shot her again twice," former Labour councillor Ghulam Maniyar told ITV News.

"She said her injury was so bad, and she was in her arms. There was lots of blood. She said 'Jo, get up' but she said 'No, my pain is too much, Fazila'. And I think those were the last words Jo spoke. She could not do anything else. She tried to comfort her."

Vigils were held across the UK on Friday evening as members of the public and politicians came together to lay flowers, light candles, and stand in silence in memory of Mrs Cox.

They followed a joint visit to Mrs Cox's home town by David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn, where the Prime Minister issued a plea for tolerance in British political life.

The Prime Minister said the whole nation was "rightly shocked" at Mrs Cox's death, and called for people to "value, and see as precious, the democracy we have on these islands". Politics was about public service and MPs wanted to "make the world a better place", he said.

Across the market square from where they stood, police tape still cordoned off the spot where the former aid worker was killed in what Labour leader Mr Corbyn described as "an attack on democracy".

He said Mrs Cox was "an exceptional, wonderful, very talented woman, taken from us in her early 40s when she had so much to give and so much of her life ahead of her".

More than £150,000 was raised in just seven hours on Friday evening on a fundraising page set up by friends of Mrs Cox to support three charities "closest to her heart".

Both the Remain and Vote Leave sides have suspended national campaigning in light of the death of Mrs Cox, who entered Parliament as MP for Batley and Spen in last year's general election.

Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have announced that they will not contest the by-election resulting from her death, giving Labour a probable free run at retaining the Westminster seat which she won with a majority of 6,057 last year.

In an apparent reference to the referendum campaign, German chancellor Angela Merkel urged British politicians to "draw limits" around the language used in political debate, warning that otherwise "radicalisation will become unstoppable".

The National Police Chiefs' Council said police forces are contacting MPs around the country to give security advice.

Defiant MPs have vowed to go ahead with constituency surgeries in the wake of the horrific murder.

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph