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London Bridge survivor: ‘I saw things I will never unsee’

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Media captionBryonn Bain was giving a workshop at Fishmongers’ Hall when the attack began

An American academic has given a graphic account of the moment the London Bridge stabbing attack began, saying it “felt like a warzone”.

Bryonn Bain told the BBC that victim Jack Merritt had been the first person to confront Usman Khan when he launched his knife assault during a prisoner rehabilitation conference on Friday.

“I saw people die, I saw things that I will never be able to unsee,” he said.

Vigils have taken place for Mr Merritt, 25, and second victim Saskia Jones, 23.

Two women and a man were also injured in the attack before Khan was shot dead by armed officers on London Bridge – the two women are still in hospital in a stable condition.

Prof Bain said former offenders attending the University of Cambridge-linked conference “stepped up and intervened” to tackle Khan, and people at Fishmongers’ Hall owed their lives to the actions of those who had previously spent time in jail.

He said two men from his performance poetry workshop immediately ran towards shouts from elsewhere in Fishmongers’ Hall in the City of London as the attack began, and as shouts grew louder he also went to assist.

“That’s when I ran down and saw the scene unfolding there,” he said. “I was able to see the attacker.”

He added: “It felt like a warzone… it felt like total chaos.”

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Media captionThe chief executive of Fishmongers Hall, Commodore Toby Williamson describes how his staff fought back

Prof Bain said course co-ordinator Mr Merritt was “the first line of defence”.

“I want to honour him,” Prof Bain said of Mr Merritt. “I want to honour his father’s wishes which have been explicit to not have his life be used for political purposes to ramp up draconian policies, because that’s not what he was about.”

Mr Merritt’s father criticised newspaper coverage of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to review the early release of convicted terrorists.

Writing in the Guardian, David Merritt says his son “would be seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against”.

The article calls for a justice system that focuses on rehabilitation, rather than revenge, and criticises indeterminate sentences, saying his son worked for “a world where we do not lock up and throw away the key”.

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Jack Merritt was a co-ordinator of the Learning Together programme and Saskia Jones a volunteer

Prof Bain added: “I want to make sure that as much as possible that we uphold the heroes of the day, were formerly incarcerated people, some of the folks who are often easiest to dehumanise.

“They stepped up and many of the folks in that space would not be here today if it weren’t for these guys who did time in prison and literally saved lives.”

In other developments on Monday:

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his response to the attack after Mr Merritt’s father criticised newspaper coverage of Mr Johnson’s pledge to review the early release of convicted terrorists
  • Mr Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attended a vigil at the Guildhall near London Bridge to honour those caught up in the attack
  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the best way to defeat the hatred shown in the attack was to focus on the values of hope, unity and love
  • BBC News learned the attacker, Usman Khan, 28, had been under investigation by the security service MI5 since his release from prison last year, but given one of the lowest priorities. He had been convicted of a terrorism offence in 2012
  • As part of his release conditions, Khan was obliged to take part in the government’s desistance and disengagement programme – which aims to rehabilitate those involved in terrorism

Vigils for the victims of the attack were also held in Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University, which Ms Jones had previously attended.

Mr Merritt and Ms Jones both studied for masters degrees at the University of Cambridge’s institute of criminology and had been taking part in an event for its Learning Together programme – which focuses on education within the criminal justice system – when they were killed.

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The family of Jack Merritt take part in a vigil at the Guildhall in Cambridge

Mr Merritt, from Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, was a co-ordinator of the Learning Together programme and Ms Jones, from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, a volunteer

The victims’ families paid tribute to their loved ones at the weekend.

Ms Jones’s family said their daughter had a “great passion” for supporting victims of criminal justice.

In a statement, Mr Merritt’s family described him as a “talented boy” who “died doing what he loved”.

Toby Williamson, chief executive of Fishmongers’ Hall, praised the bravery of his staff who intervened to stop the attacker, hailing their actions as “extraordinary things done by ordinary people”.

Mr Williamson told how Polish chef Lukasz suffered five wounds to his left-hand side as he fended off the knifeman with a narwhal tusk during “about a minute of one-on-one straight combat” – allowing others time to escape danger.

A group of hall staff, ex-offenders, prison and probation staff are believed to have drawn Khan out on to London Bridge where he was subsequently shot dead by armed police.

The Metropolitan Police said in an update on Monday night that detectives were continuing extensive inquiries but had so far found nothing to suggest other people were involved in the attack.

‘Minimal risk’

Khan, who admitted preparing terrorist acts in 2012, was released from prison in December 2018 after serving half of his sentence.

The BBC understands Khan was formally under investigation by MI5 as he left jail but placed in the second-to-bottom category of investigations as his initial risk to the public was thought to be minimal.

This was consistent with the grading given to most other people convicted of terrorism offences as they go back into the community under a release licence.

A low level of prioritisation is assigned to offenders such as Khan because their release comes with a strict set of licence conditions.

These conditions theoretically provide suitable monitoring and oversight, such as alerts if they contact other suspects or travel outside an approved area.

Khan, the BBC has learned, was on the highest-level of such community monitoring. The overall package, in theory, relieves pressure on MI5 so the security service can focus on more immediate threats.

Friday was the first time that Khan, who wore a GPS tag, had been permitted to travel to London since he left prison. The BBC has been told that – earlier in the year – Khan was refused permission to travel to Stoke-on-Trent, which is where he grew up, in order to attend a social event.

The prime minister said on Sunday that 74 people jailed for terror offences and released early would have their licence conditions reviewed..

Police said two terror-related arrests following Friday’s incident, in Staffordshire and north London, were not directly connected to the London Bridge attack.

It came after the UK’s terrorism threat level was downgraded on 4 November from “severe” to “substantial”, meaning that attacks were thought to be “likely” rather than “highly likely”.

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Uber loses licence to operate in London

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Media captionJamie Heywood, who manages Uber’s UK operation, says the firm will appeal

Uber will not be granted a new licence to operate in London after repeated safety failures, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

The regulator said the taxi app was not “fit and proper” as a licence holder, despite having made a number of positive changes to its operations.

Uber initially lost its licence in 2017 but was granted two extensions, the most recent of which expires on Monday.

The firm will appeal and can continue to operate during that process.

London is one of Uber’s top five markets globally and it has about 45,000 drivers in the city. Overall, there are 126,000 licensed private hire and black cabs in the capital.

If its appeal is unsuccessful, some think Uber drivers would move over to rival ride-sharing firms such as Bolt and Kapten.”There would be competition that would fill that void quite quickly,” Fiona Cincotta, a market analyst at City Index told the BBC.

Why won’t Uber get a new licence?

TfL said it had identified a “pattern of failures” in London that placed passenger safety at risk.

These included a change to Uber’s systems which allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts.

It meant there were at least 14,000 fraudulent trips in London in late 2018 and early 2019, TfL said.

The regulator also found dismissed or suspended drivers had been able to create Uber accounts and carry passengers. In one example, a driver was able to continue working for Uber, despite the fact his private hire licence had been revoked after he was cautioned for distributing indecent images of children.

Helen Chapman, director of licensing at TfL, said: “While we recognise Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “I know this decision may be unpopular with Uber users, but their safety is the paramount concern. Regulations are there to keep Londoners safe.”

‘I feel safe using Uber’

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Donna Stevens says her experiences of using Uber in London have “always been positive”.

In her job as a carer she often works late, so regularly uses the service. “The drivers are friendly, courteous and professional. I can’t afford to get a metered taxi.”

She says that if Uber were to go, she would probably have to go back to using public transport late at night, which does not make her feel safe.

However, another reader, Kay, says she would not be sad to see Uber go.

“I complained a couple of months ago about a driver who made me feel so uncomfortable I abandoned the ride and walked home in the dark at 11 o’clock at night instead of staying in his cab.”

She says Uber gave her a £5 credit but did not apologise. “How is it OK to employ drivers that make women feel unsafe?” she says.

Is this the end of Uber in London?

Uber lovers in London, fear not! The company’s cars will not suddenly disappear from the capital’s streets.

Uber is going to appeal against this decision so a magistrate will have to decide whether Uber is fit to hold a licence in London, or not.

A decision from a magistrates court could take weeks or months and unless the court decides otherwise, Uber will retain its licence during this period too.

When TfL decided not to renew Uber’s licence in 2017, the company addressed some of the issues raised by TfL back then and then a magistrate later granted Uber a new licence.

On the face of it TfL is standing tough against perceived failings by Uber. But in effect it is letting the courts decide, at a later date, whether Uber should have a licence, or not.

What does Uber say?

Uber said the decision was “extraordinary and wrong”. It said it had audited every driver in London over the past two months and strengthened its processes.

Boss Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted: “We understand we’re held to a high bar, as we should be. But this TfL decision is just wrong. Over the last 2 years we have fundamentally changed how we operate in London.”

According to Uber, 24% of its sales come from just five cities, including London. The others are Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and São Paulo in Brazil.

In a public filing, it said: “Any inability to operate in London, as well as the publicity concerning any such termination or non-renewal, would adversely affect our business, revenue, and operating results.

“We cannot predict whether the TfL decision, or future regulatory decisions or legislation in other jurisdictions, may embolden or encourage other authorities to take similar actions even where we are operating according to the terms of an existing licence or permit.”

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In May, hundreds of Uber drivers in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow staged a protest against the firm over pay and conditions

What do others say?

Business lobby group the CBI said customers valued Uber, and encouraged both sides to find a resolution.

But the Unite union – which believes Uber has unfairly taken business from black cab drivers – welcomed the news.

“Uber’s DNA is about driving down standards and creating a race to the bottom which is not in the best interests of professional drivers or customers,” said Jim Kelly, chair of Unite’s London and Eastern cab section.

Where else has banned Uber?

Uber has faced pressure from regulators around the world over the way it treats its drivers, competition concerns, and fears about passenger safety.

The US firm pulled out of Denmark in 2017 because of new taxi laws that required drivers to have fare meters and seat sensors.

Bulgaria and Hungary both stripped Uber’s right to operate following pressure from local taxi unions.

And in May, the ride-hailing firm pulled its UberXL service in Turkey without saying why.

What happened in London in 2017?

TfL first declined to renew Uber’s licence in September 2017, again over safety concerns. Back then it cited Uber’s approach to carrying out background checks on drivers and reporting serious criminal offences.

Uber’s use of secret software, called “Greyball”, which could be used to block regulators from monitoring the app, was another factor, although Uber said it had never been used in the UK.

However, TfL granted Uber a 15-month licence extension – later extended by two months – conditional on it making improvements to its business.

TfL can offer licences of up to five years, but it has been more stringent of late.

In July, Indian ride-hailing company Ola got a 15-month agreement for its entry into the London market, while ViaVan got a three-year licence renewal.


Would you be sad to see Uber go in London? Or would you just move on to another ride-hailing app? Share your reactions by emailing .

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Drug dealers sentenced after residents took action

East London 'drug dealers only' parking space

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Residents had commissioned artists to create “drug dealers only” parking spaces to highlight the crime problem in the area

Drug dealers who were exposed when disgruntled residents put up fake street signs have been jailed.

The east London residents commissioned artists to create “drug dealers only” parking spaces and “crack pickup” points last September, sparking a police investigation.

A total of 23 men have now been prosecuted over the drugs trade.

Three were sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday and four on Friday.

Judge Gerard Pounder told the court on Friday: “All this came to light because of residents in Tower Hamlets and Hackney.

“They were finding life very difficult. They had a number of people coming into their area who were taking drugs, leaving needles, threatening other people including those taking their children to school.”

‘Dealing near children’

Jonathan Shepherd, from the CPS, said on Monday: “Dealing drugs such as heroin can have devastating consequences for vulnerable people and communities.

“These defendants showed little consideration for those around them – often openly dealing drugs in the day in front of young children and encouraging aggressive drug users to loiter in the area.

“The different phone lines represented a co-ordinated effort between various drugs operations to work together to deal dangerous drugs, in effect blighting the local community to such an extent that they felt they had to take action.”

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Another fake sign read: “Needle free zone”

The Weavers Community Action Group, which was created to tackle the problem of drug dealing in the area, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The immediate response we saw from the police and council following our effective street art campaign was very impressive.”

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Kevin Tighe (left), Kenneth Gratton and Craig Furlong (right) were sentenced on Monday

Monday saw the sentencing of Dilraj Miah, 29, from Spitalfields, who was jailed for three years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs; as well as Kevin Tighe, 49, from Bethnal Green, and Kenneth Gratton, 56, from Bow, who were both sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years, for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs; and Craig Furlong, 31, from Bethnal Green, who had his sentencing deferred for six months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

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Rukon Ahmed (left) was sentenced on Friday and Dilraj Miah on Monday

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Crown Prosecution Service

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Julian Haynes (left), Luke Gratton and Brendan Vickers (right) were sentenced on Friday

On Friday, Julian Haynes, 33, and Luke Gratton, 30, both from Bethnal Green, were jailed for four years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Brendan Vickers, 26, also from Bethnal Green, and Rukon Ahmed, 29, from Forest Gate, were both sentenced to three years in prison, having both admitted conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and two counts of possessing a controlled Class A drug with intent.

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General election 2019: Greens supporting Labour in Chingford

Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith

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Iain Duncan Smith has been MP for the area since 1992, when the constituency was known as Chingford

The Green Party has stood down its candidate to help Labour try to unseat former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.

Mr Duncan Smith has been MP for Chingford and Woodford Green since 1997, and has a majority of 2,348.

The Green Party, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru formed an electoral pact earlier this month. This does not form part of that pact, the Greens said.

Voting for Labour was a vote for “more dither, division and delay” a spokesperson for Mr Duncan Smith said.

“Only a Conservative majority government can get Brexit done so we can move on and focus on people priorities,” the spokesperson added.

In a statement the local Green Party said the decision for John Tyne not to contest the election was made with the “ultimate hope of favouring the campaign of the Labour candidate” Faiza Shaheen.

A Green Party spokesperson it “was a decision taken by the local party”.

However, they added: “If Labour were serious in their concern for the environment they should reconsider their isolationist position on arrangements.”

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Faiza Shaheen will contest the constituency for Labour

Ms Shaheen, head of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, said she was “so grateful” for the decision.

She said: “I will continue to fight hard for climate policy and democratic reform.”

The Liberal Democrats have selected Dr Geoffrey Seeff as their prospective parliamentary candidate for the constituency.

Mr Duncan Smith has been MP for the area since 1992, representing Chingford until 1997 when the boundaries were re-drawn to include Woodford Green.

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Shante Turay-Thomas inquest: ‘I’m going to die’ girl told mother

Shante Turay-Thomas.

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Family handout via Leigh Day

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Shante Turay-Thomas is thought to have had an allergic reaction to hazelnuts

A teenage girl told her mother “I’m going to die” as she succumbed to a suspected allergic reaction, an inquest into her death heard.

Shante Turay-Thomas, 18, died in September 2018 after eating food thought to have contained hazelnuts at her home in Wood Green, north London.

An ambulance took over an hour to arrive and her adrenaline pen failed, St Pancras Coroner’s Court heard.

“Shante’s death has left a hole in our family,” her mother said.

Emma Turay, 46, described how her daughter quickly “fell unconscious” and “her lips turned blue and she started to have a seizure” on the night of 14 September.

‘My chest hurts’

The inquest heard how Ms Turay spent several minutes on the phone to the NHS’s non-emergency 111 service.

A transcript of the phone call was read to coroner Mary Hassell.

Ms Turay-Thomas could be heard in the background telling her mother: “My chest hurts, my throat is closing and I feel like I’m going to pass out.”

The student then asked her mother to check how long the ambulance would be, before adding: “I’m going to die.”

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Family handout

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Shante Turay-Thomas fell unconscious and died a week before her 19th birthday.

Ms Turay-Thomas’s condition deteriorated after her Emerade adrenaline auto-injector pen (AAI) did not work despite her trying twice, the inquest heard.

An ambulance was sent to a wrong address six miles away and it took almost an hour for another to arrive, having initially been assigned a category three response – which has a two-hour response time.

The teenager was eventually taken to hospital but died within hours.

Ms Turay said she was so traumatised by her daughter’s death she has been unable to return to the family home.

The inquest is expected to last for three days.

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Does London have enough disabled car park spaces?

Having accessible car parking spaces available through the blue badge scheme is crucial for the day-to-day lives of disabled drivers.

But the BBC Inside Out programme has discovered one of the largest car parking firms in London is failing to provide the numbers of accessible bays recommended by government guidelines.

The operator, NCP, says it takes the issue of disabled parking seriously and is looking into it.

The full story will be featured on BBC Inside Out London on Monday at 19:30 GMT and afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.

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Luka Racic: Brentford defender signs four-year contract

Luka Racic (left) in action against Cambridge in the EFL Cup earlier this season

Brentford’s Danish defender Luka Racic has agreed a four-year deal to stay at the club until 2023.

The 20-year-old centre-back played in the first four games of the season, but has since been kept out by injury.

Racic, who joined Brentford’s B team from FC Copenhagen just over a year ago, has also been officially promoted to the senior squad.

“He is a very aggressive defender but also a clever defender and skilful with the ball,” said boss Thomas Frank.

“We have big belief in him and feel he has a very bright future.”

Racic follows Patrik Gunnarsson and Jan Zamburek as the third player to step up to the senior squad from the B team this season.

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Harry Styles stalker trial: Homeless man found guilty

HARRY STYLES

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Harry Styles said he still checks “weak spots” in his home after he said he received notes through his letterbox

A homeless man who camped outside pop star Harry Styles’ house for several months has been found guilty of stalking the singer.

Mr Styles, 25, offered to buy Pablo Tarazaga-Orero, 26, food after he saw him sleeping rough outside his north west London home in March.

Speaking at Hendon Magistrates’ Court, the singer said he locks his bedroom door every night after being followed.

Mr Styles said the man’s behaviour was “erratic and frightening”.

The former One Direction singer said he was “sad to see someone so young sleeping rough” when he first saw Tarazaga-Orero.

He bought him vegan sandwiches, salads and muffins, after the rough sleeper asked for some edamame beans.

After trying to cut contact, the pop star saw him nearly every day, and received notes and money in his letterbox, District Judge Nigel Deane heard.

When asked whether he had stalked the celebrity, Tarazaga-Orero said: “That was never my intention. In the end I just wanted the money he offered me.

“I don’t have any feelings for him. I’m not in love with him.”

Tarazaga-Orero will be sentenced on 21 October.

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Brit winner Finley Quaye admits attacking bar manager

Finley Quaye

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Finley Quaye was named Best British Male Solo Artist at the 1998 Brit Awards

Brit Award-winning musician Finley Quaye has admitted punching a bar manager in the face during a drunken attack in west London.

The 45-year-old assaulted Robert Jenei outside 267 Old Brompton Road in the early hours of 8 September.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that after punching the victim, Quaye kicked a BMW and shouted: “I will stab you lot in the kidney.”

He was released on conditional bail to return to the court on 14 October.

Quaye, of Earls Court, was named Best British Male Solo Artist at the 1998 Brit Awards following the release of his album Maverick A Strike.

‘Visibly angry’

Prosecutor Malachy Pakenham said the singer had asked Mr Jenei to look for a woman’s handbag in the venue.

When the bar manager returned Quaye became “visibly angry” and “punched the victim in the face”, he said.

Shahnaz Sargent, defending, said her client “accepts that he has got an alcohol problem” and was “very ashamed of his behaviour”.

After Quaye had pleaded guilty to assault, magistrates ordered a probation report ahead of sentencing.

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Anti-abortion posters targeting Stella Creasy to be pulled

Poster on foetus

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MP Stella Creasy is demanding the removal of the posters

An anti-abortion billboard campaign targeted at pregnant MP Stella Creasy is being pulled down amid claims the posters were a form of harassment.

The Walthamstow MP said she was being targeted by anti-abortion group CBRUK because of her pro-choice stance.

Clear Chanel, which owned the billboards, apologised and said it was taking immediate action to remove them.

Ms Creasy has called for the company to donate money from the campaign to an abortion support charity.

Earlier on social media, she criticised the Met Police’s refusal to intervene and to act to “stop the harassment”.

The ASA said it had so far received 100 complaints about the poster campaign.

“Our rules state that ads must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence,” an ASA spokesperson said.

In a statement, Clear Channel said it took a “neutral stance” on advertising and had processes to ensure all posters complied with UK Advertising Codes.

“While this campaign met these requirements, we accept that the content should have been scrutinised in greater detail and should not have been displayed,” it said, adding that it would review its internal processes to ensure it did not happen again.

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The MP said she had been targeted by the group for her pro-choice views

Ruth Rawlins, of CBRUK, claimed Ms Creasy had shown “hypocrisy” by only using the word baby “when a child is wanted but totally ignores the word in conversations about an unwanted baby”.

She added: “We will, in the near future, be holding other MPs to account.”

At the weekend the anti-abortion group, which is affiliated to the CBR group in the United States, leafleted shoppers in Walthamstow High Street. The Met said officers had attended the planned protest, which “concluded peacefully”.

“Officers listened to concerns about the content of parts of the protest but no criminal offences were committed,” the force said in a statement.

A picture shared by Ms Creasy on Monday showed one of the six posters that appeared around Walthamstow had been covered with white paint.

The MP’s office said she had also appealed to the Home Secretary Priti Patel to step in over the alleged harassment.

Ms Creasy tabled a recent amendment to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland, which was passed by a majority in the Commons in July.

Ilford Labour MP Wes Streeting on Twitter described the poster campaign as “appalling”.

“Just so we’re clear about what’s happening here, protesters have made it clear that they are targeting Stella while she is pregnant because she is pregnant.”

Comedian Shappi Khorsandi added her voice to the objections and said: “‘Stop Stella’????. This isn’t free speech, it’s harassment.”



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