Prison staff say London Bridge killer Usman Khan would have met victim Jack Merritt at Whitemoor

PUBLISHED: 15:52 04 December 2019 | UPDATED: 15:52 04 December 2019

Handout file photo issued by Metropolitan Police of a composed image of (left) Jack Merritt, 25, of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire and (right) Saskia Jones, 23, of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, both formally identified by the Metropolitan Police as the two victims who died following the terrorist attack near to London Bridge on Friday. Inquests into the deaths of London Bridge terror attack victims will be opened at the Old Bailey. Picture: FILE

Handout file photo issued by Metropolitan Police of a composed image of (left) Jack Merritt, 25, of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire and (right) Saskia Jones, 23, of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, both formally identified by the Metropolitan Police as the two victims who died following the terrorist attack near to London Bridge on Friday. Inquests into the deaths of London Bridge terror attack victims will be opened at the Old Bailey. Picture: FILE

PA Wire/PA Images

Staff at Whitemoor where London Bridge attacker Usman Khan had most recently been an inmate, say he would have known his victim Jack Merritt leading them to be believe it was a targeted attack.

Flowers left at London Bridge in central London, following the London Bridge terror attack on Friday. A vigil will be held on Monday to pay tribute to the victims of the attack and to honour the emergency services and members of the public who responded to the incident. Picture: Tess De La Mare/PA Wire/PA ImagesFlowers left at London Bridge in central London, following the London Bridge terror attack on Friday. A vigil will be held on Monday to pay tribute to the victims of the attack and to honour the emergency services and members of the public who responded to the incident. Picture: Tess De La Mare/PA Wire/PA Images

"The terrorist had been on the Cambridge University Learning Together programme which was being celebrated at Fishmonger's Hall, London" one officer told me.

"Khan had been on the course at Whitemoor and Jack Merritt had been one of those coming to the prison to help with the course.

"Jack had been in the prison so had met his killer - it was definitely a targeted attack"

Jack, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, both Cambridge graduates, were stabbed to death by Khan, a convicted terrorist, during an event to celebrate five years of the Learning Together programme.

General view of London Bridge in central London, after it has reopened to pedestrians following the London Bridge terror attack on Friday. A vigil will be held on Monday to pay tribute to the victims of the attack and to honour the emergency services and members of the public who responded to the incident. Picture: Tess De La Mare/PA Wire/PA ImagesGeneral view of London Bridge in central London, after it has reopened to pedestrians following the London Bridge terror attack on Friday. A vigil will be held on Monday to pay tribute to the victims of the attack and to honour the emergency services and members of the public who responded to the incident. Picture: Tess De La Mare/PA Wire/PA Images

Khan, released last year on licence, had been invited to attend to show the audience how the course had helped prisoners. He had gained permission to travel into London but instead of thanking those who had helped him, used it to launch his killing spree.

Steve Barclay, Brexit Secretary and Tory candidate for NE Cambs, said: "This horrific case feels particularly close to home given the connection with Whitemoor prison here in March.

"And also the fact that two victims of this atrocity are from our county."

Mr Barclay said: "As a graduate of the university myself to see two such young people with so much of their lives ahead of them be killed in this way is heartbreaking.

"Our thoughts are with their families and friends, never more so in the weeks running up to Christmas "

He added: "It is important that lessons are learnt from this case and done so in a calm and measured way and I will clearly take a close interest in proceedings given their relevance to constituents here in Cambridgeshire."

Learning Together was set up five years ago with the aim of bringing together those in higher education and offenders to study alongside each other.

The university says it has "broken down prejudices and created new possibilities for all of those who took part".

Jack Merritt was a keen advocate of a scheme which claimed it showed the "wealth of academic talent inside the criminal justice system".

Professor Stephen Toope, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said that Learning Together does challenging work with an often maligned community.

He told the BBC: "It is always difficult to be working with populations that are, in some sense, not always very well regarded in society - people who have been convicted of offences.

"But the whole purpose of the programme is to try to ensure that people who have been convicted will be given educational opportunities that will allow them to better integrate into society when they are released."

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