The father of London Bridge terror attack victim Jack Merritt has spoken of the pain of losing his son, telling Sky News that breaking the news to Jack’s brother was the “hardest part” of the day.
Khan, a convicted terrorist who was released in 2018, launched his knife attack at a prisoner rehabilitation event in Fishmongers’ Hall.
He stabbed Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, 23, to death before being tackled by members of the public and shot dead by armed police.
Mr Merritt had seen reports on Twitter of an incident at London Bridge but, unaware that Jack was in that area of the capital, “didn’t really think much of it other than, ‘Oh no, there’s been another attack, how terrible’.”
He said that when he arrived at their home in Cambridge he was met by his wife, who was “beside herself”.
It was at this point that she said she had been told by Jack’s girlfriend Leanne that he had been caught up in the attack.
The pair rushed into London and headed for the Royal London Hospital, as initial media reports had mentioned that this was where casualties from the attack had been taken.
But there was no record of Jack being admitted, with the family facing an agonising wait for news about their son.
Mr Merritt continued: “About an hour or so later, the police liaison officer came in and took us into a separate room and said: ‘We don’t know where Jack is. We don’t know whether he’s alive or dead. We’re not sure which hospital he’s been taken to. But we’re trying to find out. We’ll let you know as soon as we can.’
“And subsequently, we talked to the police. They asked us about what was Jack wearing, you know, any distinctive features. What did he look like? We gave them some photos from our phones.
“And gradually, they obviously had an idea at that stage that he was dead.
“But they needed to make absolutely sure before they told us.
“Now we were with Jack’s girlfriend Leanne at the time and also three of his friends who he was due to be meeting after work in London had come along to the hospital because they heard something had happened and they wanted to be there.
“And then we were told at about a quarter to 11 that they confirmed that he had been killed.
“So that was how we found out.”
Mr Merritt said it was then that the family were told that Jack had died at the scene and had been taken to a mortuary.
He added that they did not visit him there, as they “wanted to wait until he came back” so they could “present him in a nicer way”.
Mr Merritt continued: “I think it’s fair to say that we were probably in shock and really struggling to process the information.
“It just didn’t seem possible that this had happened, that it was Jack that was involved.
“It’s always someone else, isn’t it? It’s always someone else.”
The hardest part of the day, Mr Merritt said, was telling Jack’s brother.
He was out with friends back home in Cambridge and was unaware that anything was wrong.
“We didn’t want to tell him over the phone and we didn’t want anybody else to tell him,” he said.
“So we went and got him. And we had to tell him that his brother died.
“Which was probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do so far.”
In the wake of the attack, Mr Merritt launched a thinly veiled criticism of Prime Minister Boris Johnson for politicising the tragedy.
Explaining why he did so, he told Sky News: “I just thought, well, you know, my son’s just been killed.
“If anybody’s entitled to say anything about this, then I am.
“And I know what he would have said. So I basically just said what he would have said.”
Mr Merritt renewed his criticism of the PM, telling Sky News that “instead of seeing a tragedy, Boris Johnson saw an opportunity”.