Is anyone surprised that Boris Johnson has ignored requests from the family of one of the London Bridge attack victims, Jack Merritt, not to politicise his death?

Mr Merritt, who was 25 and a graduate of Cambridge University, was murdered on Friday at Fishmongers Hall in the City of London where he was attending a conference on prisoner rehabilitation. He was a coordinator for the university’s Learning Together programme, which brings those in higher education together with offenders to give them educational opportunities that will allow them to better integrate into society when they are released from prison.

Hearing about the principles Mr Merritt held so close and how those who knew him have described him, I have been reminded so much of Northern Ireland journalist Lyra McKee and the tragedy of her untimely death.

Like Ms. McKee, those who knew and worked with Mr Merritt have described him as thoughtful, empathetic, and someone who always took the side of the underdog. He too was determined to confront hate and injustice in our society, just as Lyra had done in so many areas of her personal and professional life, and wanted to bring communities together, not seek to find or perpetuate division.

He is said to have been the first person to confront the attacker, Usman Khan, the convicted terrorist who launched his knife assault inside the building near London Bridge. Others, including former prisoners, then intervened to tackle Khan in an attempt him stop his killing spree. Fellow graduate and a friend of Mr Merrit, Saskia Jones, was also killed while three others suffered injuries.

The Prime Minister – and others in the conservative Party – has been quick to blame Labour for the attack claiming the party was responsible for the early release policy under which Khan was freed in 2018, having served half of a 16 year sentence for a plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange.

Johnson has also used the attack to propose a review of the early release of convicted terrorists along with measures that would see more draconian justice policies, something Mr Merrit’s father has said is the complete opposite of what his son stood for and what he worked for.

Writing in the Guardian, he said his son would be “seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against.” Instead, his son would want others to continue the work he’d been involved in, to commit to a “world where we do not lock up and throw away the key. Where we do not give indeterminate sentences, or convict people on joint enterprise. Where we do not slash prison budgets, and where we focus on rehabilitation not revenge.”

“Where we do not consistently undermine our public services, the lifeline of our nation.”

Indeed, it is a widely held belief by experts in the criminal justice sector that any investigation into the attack must look at systemic issues and not simply sentencing policy or the decisions of individuals. Certainly, there are questions around the issue of Khan’s release, but more so, why – after spending eight years in the prison system – did he still come out a radical terrorist? It is a complex area and one that deserves so much more analysis and attention than what has been given by the Prime Minister, who has shown a distinct lack of understanding around the reasons for the attack and only seems interested in political point scoring for electoral gain. As a society in the run up to a General Election, we expect issues to become political very quickly and for politicians to engage in electioneering given the opportunity. But some incidents – particularly a national tragedy such as this – should not be used for political gain. Fact-based evidence should be paramount alongside a deep consideration for the feelings of victims’ families.

Honestly, it comes as little surprise that Johnson has acted the way he has. But that doesn’t make it acceptable. His response to this attack is yet another example of how flippant he chooses to be with details and with people’s feelings.

And it is yet another timely reminder of how far he is willing to go to further his own interests.