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Hundreds of mourners carry lanterns and candles to remember Sir David Amess at vigil in memory of MP

Hundreds of mourners carried lanterns and candles to remember Sir David Amess at a vigil in memory of the Tory MP on the field where an air ambulance landed as paramedics tried to save him.

Crowds gathered in darkness at Belfairs sports ground in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Saturday evening to honour the 69-year-old, who was killed the day before at the nearby Belfairs Methodist Church while meeting constituents. 

It comes shortly after Priti Patel visited the church this morning alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

The politicians paid their respects to Sir David, less than 24 hours after he was fatally stabbed during a constituency surgery. A 25-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder is in custody at an Essex police station.

At tonight's vigil, Southend councillor Alan Dear addressed those gathered in a circle around dozens of glowing candles on the grass.

'For me, and I know for all of you because you're here, it's been a terrible 24 hours for all of us,' he said.

Police officers stand nearby as crowds gather in darkness at Belfairs sports ground in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Saturday evening to honour the 69-year-old Tory MP, who was killed while meeting constituents yesterday

Members of the public attend a vigil for Sir David on the field where an air ambulance landed as paramedics tried to save the MP for Southend West, after he was stabbed to death in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

Crowds lay candles in a circle during the vigil at Belfairs Recreation Ground near to Belfairs Methodist Church on Eastwood Road North in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Saturday evening

Priti Patel Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle paid their respects to  Sir David (pictured above), less than 24 hours after he was fatally stabbed during a constituency surgery

He went on: 'For me, (Sir David) was a good friend, and I know he was a good friend to all of you here. He spent 40 years of his life caring for the constituents of Basildon and Southend.

'He was a very kind, loving, gentle man. A gentleman and a gentle man. He's a person I will never forget.

'He's always been available. If you ever needed help he was there. I know he's helped many of you here this evening.'

He invited the crowd to join him in a minute's silence, which was followed by rounds of spontaneous applause.

Scores of floral tributes to Sir David, who had been an MP since 1983, had piled up by the police cordon on Eastwood Road North, where the church is, over the course of the day.

A message from Sir David's cousins, left with flowers near Belfairs Methodist Church, said: 'RIP David. Thinking of your lovely family. Can't believe this has actually happened. Will always love you. Cousins Moira and Pat.'

A further family message, from second cousins, said: 'I am so sad to hear the news of this brutal attack. You was a great man, husband, father and member of our family. You will be missed. Rest in peace.'

It follows official sources saying the suspect is believed to be a British national with Somali heritage. The investigation is assuming there was an Islamist extremist motivation for the attack, they added.  

Mourners light candles during the vigil for Conservative MP Sir David in Leigh on Sea, Essex, on Saturday evening

Members of the public attend a vigil for Sir David Amess near the crime scene where the MP was stabbed to death yesterday

Mourners attend a candle-lit vigil in memory of the Conservative MP. At tonight's vigil, Southend councillor Alan Dear addressed those gathered in a circle around dozens of glowing candles on the grass

People light candles at a vigil in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. A Southend councillor invited the crowd to join him in a minute's silence, which was followed by rounds of spontaneous applause

Crowds pictured at the night vigil with candles being lit outside the church. Flowers were also left in memory of the MP

Candles left at the vigil at Belfairs Recreation Ground. Scores of floral tributes to Sir David, who had been an MP since 1983, had also piled up by the police cordon on Eastwood Road North

As part of the investigation, officers are also carrying out searches at two addresses in the London area, the Met Police said.

Scotland Yard said the country's most senior counter-terror officer, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, has formally declared the incident as terrorism and said early investigations have revealed 'a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism'.

Politicians put on a united front at the church on Saturday morning, with Mr Johnson and Sir Keir individually laying flowers outside the building.

But MPs have raised concerns over their safety at constituency surgeries following the attack, sparking a debate over whether they should continue in person. 

Veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman said she will be writing to the Prime Minister asking him to back a Speaker's Conference to review the safety of parliamentarians. 

The night vigil on Saturday evening with candles being lit outside the church. A Southend councillor said: 'He was a very kind, loving, gentle man. A gentleman and a gentle man. He's a person I will never forget'

Members of the public attend a vigil for Sir David near the scene where he was killed yesterday. A message from Sir David's cousins, left with flowers near the church, said: 'RIP David. Thinking of your lovely family. Can't believe this has actually happened. Will always love you. Cousins Moira and Pat'

Crowds pay tribute to the Tory MP at the vigil on Saturday. It follows official sources saying the suspect is believed to be a British national with Somali heritage. The investigation is assuming there was an Islamist extremist motivation for the attack

Police officers and crowds holding candles are seen at the vigil tonight. As part of the investigation, officers are carrying out searches at two addresses in the London area, the Met Police said

The candlelit vigil on Saturday. Scotland Yard said the country's most senior counter-terror officer, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, has formally declared the incident as terrorism

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, who was hailed as a hero for his attempts to save the life of Pc Keith Palmer during the Westminster terror attack in 2017, said face-to-face meetings with MPs should be paused until a security review has been completed.

Investigators believe Sir David's killer acted alone and are not seeking anyone else in connection with his death.

According to reports, the knifeman was waiting among a group of people to see Sir David at the church and launched the attack shortly after the MP arrived.

Local councillor John Lamb said he dashed to the church when he heard Sir David had been 'stabbed multiple times'.

He said: 'David was there holding his surgery at that Methodist church and this person had gone there to join the surgery and when he got the chance and he went in to be seen by David, then he drew a knife and stabbed him.'