A 25-year-old man has denied murdering Conservative MP Sir David Amess who was stabbed to death while meeting his constituents in October.
Ali Harbi Ali appeared at Old Bailey on Tuesday charged with stabbing the veteran politician, whose death shocked the UK.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge of preparing acts of terrorism between May 1, 2019, and September 28 this year at a plea and case management hearing at the London court.
Prosecutors allege that on the morning of October 15 he travelled by train from home in Kentish Town, north London, to attend Sir David’s constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
The MP for Southend West was stabbed inside the church and despite the efforts of paramedics he was pronounced dead at the scene at 1.10pm.
Mr Ali has been in custody since being arrested.
Mr Justice Sweeney, who presided over Tuesday’s hearing, set a trial date of March 21 next year.
Sir David, who was 69, is survived by his wife and five adult children.
Following the stabbing, his family called for unity and urged people to be "tolerant and try to understand" others.
Sir David, a devout Catholic, had been outspoken about his pro-life views and support of animal rights and was an avid campaigner for Southend-on-Sea to get city status.
In the wake of his death, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Queen Elizabeth II had accorded city status in honour of Sir David.
Pope Francis paid tribute to the Tory MP in a message read out at his Requiem Mass in November, held at Westminster Cathedral in London an attended by politicians from across the political spectrum.
The head of the Roman Catholic church praised the late politician for his years of “devoted public service” and called for mourners’ resolve to be strengthened to “combat evil with good” and “build a society of ever greater justice”.