Jo Cox murder: Man appears in court over death of MP

Thomas Mair (52) is charged with killing the 41-year-old Labour Party MP

Thomas Mair, 52, has been charged with the murder of Jo Cox as well as committing grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon. Video: REUTERS

 

A man has appeared in court charged with the murder of British MP Jo Cox.

Mrs Cox (41) died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, near Leeds, on Thursday.

Thomas Mair (52) from Birstall, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on Saturday charged with murder, grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon.

Mair gave his name as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain” in court.

When the question was repeated, Mair said the same words again, his only comments during Saturday’s 15-minute hearing. He was wearing grey sports clothing and flanked by two security guards.

He was remanded in custody and will appear at London’s Old Bailey court on Monday.

Ms Cox was targeted in the attack as she prepared to hold a regular session to give advice to constituents.

A 77-year-old man who intervened to try to protect Ms Cox remains in hospital in a stable condition after suffering a serious injury to his abdomen.

Mr Mair, who lives in the town of Birstall, in Yorkshire, where Ms Cox was killed, will appear at London’s Westminster Magistrates on Saturday charged with murder, causing grievous bodily harm and offences related to possession of a firearm.

Ms Cox’s killing has shocked the nation, uniting politicians in horror and leading to the suspension of hostilities in what had become increasingly bitter and ugly campaigning ahead of the June 23rd referendum on the EU.

On Friday, prime minister David Cameron joined Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in laying flowers in Birstall.

“It is a vile act that has killed her,” Mr Corbyn said.

Mr Cameron has agreed to recall parliament on Monday to allow MPs to pay tributes to the popular MP who had only been elected to parliament in 2015.

The murder has sparked debate in Britain, which has strict gun controls, about the safety of politicians, the heightened tempo of political confrontation and whether the slaying would affect the outcome of the EU referendum.

Both sides in the referendum contest have put on hold their national campaigns until at least Sunday.

Polls have suggested the vote is on a knife edge but in the last week had indicated that the campaign to leave the EU had been taking the lead.

A telephone survey by BMG for Scotland’s The Herald newspaper on Saturday showed the “Remain” camp on 53 pe rcent support and “Leave” on 47 per cent, although a separate online poll by BMG showed Leave leading by 10 points, with 55 per cent support compared to Remain’s 45 per cent.

Both polls were carried out before Jo Cox was killed.

Those wanting to stay in the EU can count on the support of many of Britain’s biggest businesses, most economists and foreign leaders such as US president Barack Obama, who spoke to Cox’s husband on Friday to offer condolences on behalf of the American people.

Attacks of any nature on public figures in Britain are rare. The last British MP to have been killed was Ian Gow, who died after a bomb planted by the IRA exploded under his car at his home in southern England in 1990.

Leaders across Europe and the world have expressed shock at the killing of Ms Cox, a Cambridge University graduate and former charity worker whose job took her to countries such as Afghanistan and Darfur.

A fund set up in her honour had raised more than £140,000 for charities she supported in six hours.

Reuters