A grieving father paid tribute to his son on Saturday, the first identified victim of Friday’s London Bridge terror attack that killed two people and wounded three.
Jack Meritt, 25, a graduate at Cambridge University, was remembered by his dad David as a “beautiful spirit”.
Meritt was a course counsellor for Learning Together that was holding a prisoner rehabilitation conference at Fishmongers’ Hall at the north end of London Bridge on Friday afternoon.
Usman Khan, 28, who was attending the conference, went on a rampage at around 2pm and stabbed five people, before moving on to London Bridge where he was restrained by members of the public and shot by police.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. Sky News reported that Khan was a friend and a student of Muslim extremist Anjem Choudary.
Meritt and a woman, who has not yet been identified, were killed in the attack. Three people, a man and two women, were injured and remain in hospital.
Writing on Twitter, Mr Merritt said his son was a champion for those who had “dealt a losing hand by life, who ended up in the prison system”.
"My son, Jack, who was killed in this attack, would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily,” he said.
"R.I.P. Jack: you were a beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog."
Later on Saturday, Mr Meritt deleted the tweets.
Khan had been released from prison in December last year after being convicted for an al Qaeda-inspired plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange. He was wearing an electronic tag at the time of the attack.
Many of Meritt's friends paid tributes to him on social media on Saturday.
"David, I knew your son through Learning Together & I loved him to pieces - he was the sweetest, most caring and selfless individual I’ve ever met,” said one of them.
"The warmest heart, always with time for anyone. Completely irreplaceable - I will mourn his loss greatly and honour his memory xxxx"
Another called him “witty and intelligent”. He had “a determination to make his mark on the world", she added.
“I can’t believe he’s been taken from his family this way and I will always always remember how he lived and not how he died. I’m so sorry Jack,” she said.
Joshua Rozenberg, a journalist who interviewed Meritt about the course he ran for prisoners and university students, said he was “deeply sorry” to hear that he was murdered in the terrorist attack.
He called him “a fine young man, dedicated to improving people’s lives”.
On Saturday, government officials, police and security officials held a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee. A Downing Street spokesperson said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would receive further updates from security officials on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.