Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Jo Cox murder suspect gives his name as "death to traitors, freedom for Britain"

Thomas Mair, 52, appears at Westminster Magistrates' Court charged with multiple offences in relation to the killing of Jo Cox MP.

A man has been charged with murder following the shooting of Labour MP Jo Cox. Thomas Mair, 52, of Birstall was also charged with grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon, West Yorkshire police said in a statement. Asked to give his name at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Saturday morning, he replied: "My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain". 

Cox, 41, who was MP for Batley and Spen, was shot and stabbed outside her constituency office in Birstall at lunchtime on Thursday. Police said a 77-year-old man remained in a stable condition in hospital after he was injured when he "bravely intervened" in an effort to help the mother of two.

Parliament will be recalled on Monday to allow MPs to pay tribute to Cox. The Remain and Leave sides in the EU referendum have suspended national campaigning since her death. At the Joseph Priestley memorial in Birstall on Friday, David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn delivered tributes to Cox. 

The Prime Minister said: "Today our nation is rightly shocked and I think it is time to take a moment to stand back and think about some of the things that are so important about our country.

"The fact that we should treasure and value our democracy, where members of Parliament are in the public, accountable to the public, available to the public. And that’s how Jo died, she died doing her job. I think the second thing is that we should recognise that politics is about public service. People who go into public life want to act in the national interest, they want to pursue the national interest, to do things for other people to make the country and make the world a better place. Politicians disagree with each other, we often disregard what politicians say and we disregard each other. But that is what it is about and that is what Jo showed it is all about."

The Labour leader said: "Ours is a country where tolerance and respect for other people and different viewpoints have always been highly valued.

"We must not allow those who peddle hatred, terror and division to poison and degrade our national and political life.

"Jo Cox stood for tolerance, justice, peace and human rights. If any good can come from her killing it should be for us to come together as a country and face down hatred and intolerance in our society."

US president Barack Obama phoned Brendan Cox, the late MP's husband, from Air Force One to offer his condolences. A White House statement said: "The president noted that the world is a better place because of her selfless service to others, and that there can be no justification for this heinous crime, which robbed a family, a community, and a nation of a dedicated wife, mother and public servant."

A fundraising appeal launched in Cox's memory has raised more than £200,000 to support The Royal Voluntary Service, anti-extremism group Hope Not Hate and The White Helmets, which provides search and rescue workers in Syria.

The Conservatives, Ukip and the Liberal Democrats have said that they will not contest the forthcoming Batley and Spen by-election. 

Photo: André Spicer
Show Hide image

“It’s scary to do it again”: the five-year-old fined £150 for running a lemonade stand

Enforcement officers penalised a child selling home-made lemonade in the street. Her father tells the full story. 

It was a lively Saturday afternoon in east London’s Mile End. Groups of people streamed through residential streets on their way to a music festival in the local park; booming bass could be heard from the surrounding houses.

One five-year-old girl who lived in the area had an idea. She had been to her school’s summer fête recently and looked longingly at the stalls. She loved the idea of setting up her own stall, and today was a good day for it.

“She eventually came round to the idea of selling lemonade,” her father André Spicer tells me. So he and his daughter went to their local shop to buy some lemons. They mixed a few jugs of lemonade, the girl made a fetching A4 sign with some lemons drawn on it – 50p for a small cup, £1 for a large – and they carried a table from home to the end of their road. 

“People suddenly started coming up and buying stuff, pretty quickly, and they were very happy,” Spicer recalls. “People looked overjoyed at this cute little girl on the side of the road – community feel and all that sort of stuff.”

But the heart-warming scene was soon interrupted. After about half an hour of what Spicer describes as “brisk” trade – his daughter’s recipe secret was some mint and a little bit of cucumber, for a “bit of a British touch” – four enforcement officers came striding up to the stand.

Three were in uniform, and one was in plain clothes. One uniformed officer turned the camera on his vest on, and began reciting a legal script at the weeping five-year-old.

“You’re trading without a licence, pursuant to x, y, z act and blah dah dah dah, really going through a script,” Spicer tells me, saying they showed no compassion for his daughter. “This is my job, I’m doing it and that’s it, basically.”

The girl burst into tears the moment they arrived.

“Officials have some degree of intimidation. I’m a grown adult, so I wasn’t super intimidated, but I was a bit shocked,” says Spicer. “But my daughter was intimidated. She started crying straight away.”

As they continued to recite their legalese, her father picked her up to try to comfort her – but that didn’t stop the officers giving her stall a £150 fine and handing them a penalty notice. “TRADING WITHOUT LICENCE,” it screamed.


Picture: André Spicer

“She was crying and repeating, ‘I’ve done a bad thing’,” says Spicer. “As we walked home, I had to try and convince her that it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her who had done something bad.”

She cried all the way home, and it wasn’t until she watched her favourite film, Brave, that she calmed down. It was then that Spicer suggested next time they would “do it all correctly”, get a permit, and set up another stand.

“No, I don’t want to, it’s a bit scary to do it again,” she replied. Her father hopes that “she’ll be able to get over it”, and that her enterprising spirit will return.

The Council has since apologised and cancelled the fine, and called on its officials to “show common sense and to use their powers sensibly”.

But Spicer felt “there’s a bigger principle here”, and wrote a piece for the Telegraph arguing that children in modern Britain are too restricted.

He would “absolutely” encourage his daughter to set up another stall, and “I’d encourage other people to go and do it as well. It’s a great way to spend a bit of time with the kids in the holidays, and they might learn something.”

A fitting reminder of the great life lesson: when life gives you a fixed penalty notice, make lemonade.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.