A priest tried to give the last rites to the murdered British MP who was a devout Catholic, but he was denied access because it was a crime scene, police says

David Amess
David Amess MP in the Prime Ministers Office at the House of Commons on October 16,2016 in London, United Kingdom Zoe Norfolk/Getty Images
  • Conservative MP Sir David Amess died after an attack at his Essex constituency surgery.
  • Father Jeffrey Woolnough offered to administer the last rites to Sir David, who was stabbed multiple times.
  • Essex Police, treating the murder as a terrorist incident, told Insider that the crime scene’s integrity had to be preserved.

Police attending the scene where Sir David Amess MP was stabbed to death had to stop a priest from performing the last rites because it was a crime scene.

The MP died after being stabbed multiple times at his Essex constituency surgery on Friday, in what police are treating as a terrorist incident.

A local priest, Father Jeffrey Woolnough, attempted to enter the scene to perform the sacrament on the Conservative MP the Mail Online reported but was refused access as per crime scene management rules.

Amess was a devout Catholic, and the last rites – also known as the Commendation of the Dying – are a traditional and essential practice for those of the Catholic faith who are about to die.

Father Woolnough, rushed to the police cordon but was not allowed to enter. ‘The officers said that because it was a crime scene, and also the nature of the scene, it just wasn’t possible,” he said, per the Mail Online.

A spokesperson for Essex Police told Insider that they could not risk the crime scene being tampered with or altered, as the situation was ongoing.

“As with any police incident, it is of the utmost importance that we preserve the integrity of a crime scene and allow emergency services to tend to those in need. A cordon is put in place to secure and prevent contamination of the area.”

Access into a scene is at the discretion of the investigating officers. This is a fundamental part of any investigation to ensure the best possible chance of securing justice for any victim and their family,” Essex Police said in a statement.

The evening of the attack, British counter-terror police confirmed that the attack was being investigated as an act of Islamic terrorism.

A 25-year-old man was arrested at the scene.

Amess, 69, was fatally stabbed at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where the MP met with his constituents.

Amess is the second British MP to be killed in five years. Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in Birstall, West Yorkshire, as she was about to her constituency surgery in 2016. She was shot and stabbed by her assailant, Thomas Mair, who held far-right views.

Home secretary Priti Patel is being asked to address the safety concerns of other MPs, with many calling for higher levels of security.