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The justice secretary has insisted that the government is not trying to exploit the deaths of two young people in a terrorist attack for election purposes after the father of one of the victims criticised the “ignorance” of the political response.

Robert Buckland denied that cuts to prison officer numbers and probation services might have played a role in increasing the risk from terrorism, and said “public protection” had to be at the centre of any response to the deaths on Friday of Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones.

But Buckland faced criticism from Phillip Lee, the former Conservative justice minister who defected to the Liberal Democrats in September. Lee said the response had to be based around investment in courts and probation, accusing Johnson of instead using “the Trump playbook”.

Buckland reiterated the government’s stance that Labour was ultimately to blame for the release of Usman Khan, who carried out the stabbings, as his early release last year came under sentencing guidelines passed by the last Labour government. Labour called the idea “ludicrous”. Read more

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