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REUTERS Tony O'Brien
REUTERS Tony O'Brien
REUTERS Tony O'Brien
REUTERS Tony O'Brien
World News

Priest says he was not allowed to offer Sir David Amess a final prayer

by Cara Bentley

A Priest who rushed to the scene of Sir David Amess' attack on Friday says he was denied the opportunity to offer the MP the last rites.

In the Catholic tradition, the last rites are the final prayers said to commend the person to God's mercy.

Sir David Amess MP, who died on Friday, was a Catholic, and a supporter of religious freedom and traditional religious values.

Following his stabbing at his constituency surgery on Father Jeffrey Woolnough, a local Roman Catholic priest, arrived to offer Sir David the last rites.

However, the priest was denied entry and stood on the street with another man reciting the rosary.

He told The Telegraph: "I said I was the local Catholic priest and showed them my card but I wasn’t allowed. They said no one was allowed on the crime scene.

"Now we know more about what happened I can perhaps understand it, but it’s still a great disappointment for any Roman Catholic - they want to receive the last rites."

Essex Police said preserving the integrity of crime scenes was of "the utmost importance". A spokesman said a secure cordon was a "fundamental part of any investigation to ensure the best possible chance of securing justice for any victim and their family".

Father Woolnough added: "It was remarkably calm by the time I arrived," he said. "I prayed from outside and I just hope David received those. I know he would have done, because any prayer said that is sincere is received by the recipient."

The priest also led a service of tribute to the MP. 

Speaking about how attitudes to religion have changed, he said: "If you’re a Catholic, it’s really important that if you’re involved in an accident you have a card saying 'I need to see a priest'."

He added: "The police don’t call you anymore unless the family ask for it. You can’t give the last rites when the person is dead - it’s the last sacramental right that Christians will have before they die."

Police officers are taught to use their own judgement in such situations but also have a duty to preserve evidence and the crime scene.

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