West Yorkshire Police have said links to right-wing extremism and the suspect's mental health are lines of enquiry in their investigation into the death of Jo Cox.
Thomas ‘Tommy’ Mair, 52, was arrested after the Labour MP was killed on Thursday in Birstall, near Leeds.
He lived in a small semi-detached house on Lowood Lane, Birstall, West Yorkshire, and is said to have been in the Leeds area for “30 to 40 years”. The address was last night searched by police.
The full statement released by West Yorkshire Police reads:
“We have now confirmed that just before 1pm yesterday (Thursday 16/06/16) Jo arrived in a vehicle in company with two colleagues outside the Library on Market Street and whilst enroute to the library where she had a scheduled constituency meeting, she was attacked and sustained serious injuries from both a firearm and a knife and despite assistance from passers-by, the ambulance service and police officers who were quickly on the scene, she sadly died of her injuries.
“During the course of the incident a 77-year-old man bravely intervened to assist Jo and in doing so sustained a serious injury to his abdomen and although now stable he remains in hospital.
“We have had overwhelming support from the public in respect of this incident which assisted us in quickly locating a suspect who was tackled by unarmed officers and arrested.
“A murder investigation is under way by West Yorkshire Police who are working together with the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, who will bring specialist assets in support of the enquiry.
“We are aware of the speculation within the media in respect of the suspect’s link to mental health services and this is a clear line of enquiry which we are pursuing.
“We are also aware of the inference within the media of the suspect being linked to right wing extremism which is again a priority line of enquiry which will help us establish the motive for the attack on Jo.
“We are keeping an open mind and I do not wish to add to the speculation as we need to ensure that we conduct a professional investigation and do not compromise the need to bring the person responsible to justice.
“Based on information available at this time, this appears to be an isolated, but targeted attack upon Jo - there is also no indication at this stage that anyone else was involved in the attack. However we will be investigating how the suspect came to be in possession of an unlawfully held firearm.
“We are aware of two previous unrelated incidents which culminated in Jo receiving a malicious communication of a sexual nature at her parliamentary office in Westminster. Both incidents were investigated by the Metropolitan Police Service which resulted in an individual receiving an adult caution for one offence which I can confirm is not the same person who we have in custody. The other incident remains un-detected. West Yorkshire Police have not been made aware of any complaints or concerns from Jo Cox.
“The suspect in custody has been medically examined by two specialist medical practitioners who have determined that he is both fit for detention and fit for interview and detectives will continue to question the suspect during the day.
“This remains an active investigation, with a number of scenes which are being forensically examined, including the suspect’s home address. There are numerous lines of ongoing enquiry. We appreciate this has caused some disruption, which will go on for some time, but I would ask people to bear with us while we carry out this critical work.
“This has clearly had a huge impact on the community and we are grateful for their support and cooperation and that of our partners at this time.
“Yesterday and today, officers have been working in and supporting the local community and will continue to do so in order to provide reassurance and maintain public confidence.
“We have been engaged nationally with the Palace of Westminster and the Home Office to review the security arrangements of MPs generally and we are continuing to provide the appropriate advice and guidance to MPs both locally and nationally and seriously considering any concerns which they may have. However all indications are that this is a single isolated attack on Jo, for reasons that we are still trying to establish.
“I would like to thank the media for the way in which they have respected the family’s wishes for privacy at this tragic and sensitive time and I hope this continues.
“Finally I would like to reiterate my sincere condolences to Jo’s husband Brendan, their young children and their wider family, friends, colleagues and the community in which she served – all of which have been deeply affected by Jo’s senseless and tragic death.”
Neighbours spoke of him as being “a quiet bloke who keeps himself to himself”, but has been linked to a far-right group that campaigned against the EU.
Mair was previously a client of the Mirfield-based Pathways Day Centre for adults with mental health problems.
It is not clear whether Mair was currently attending Pathways.
Mair has been identified as a supporter of the Springbok Club, an organisation that has in the past defended the white supremacist regime in apartheid-era South Africa who publish S.A Patriot magazine and Springbok Cyber Newsletter.
A newsletter from the organisation in 2006 sought to find the address of "MR THOMAS MAIR of Batley".
The latest edition of the Springbok Club newsletter addresses the EU referendum, outlining the case for Brexit.
It says: “On Thursday 23rd June 2016 all British voters will have the opportunity to vote on the future of their country.
“They can vote either to remain entrapped in the artificial and retrograde European Union, or to regain their sovereign independence.”
A statement from the magazine released yesterday sought to distance it from Mair.
It reads: “We were of course appalled and sickened to learn of the murder earlier today of Ms. Jo Cox, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen.
“We understand that a gentleman named Thomas A. Mair has been arrested for this crime though, though as the case is sub judice we will have to be very careful what we say.
“It is true that a Mr Thomas A. Mair from Batley in Yorkshire subscribed to our magazine S.A Patriot when we were still published in South Africa itself.”
It goes on: “We can confirm therefore that we have never met Mr Mair, and apart from brief contact way back in the mid-1980s when he briefly subscribed to our magazine we have had no contact with him.
“All attempts to try to link him to our magazine during more recent years are therefore completely without foundation.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a group that monitors hate crimes and racist activities in the US, Mair was also a supporter of the National Alliance (NA), a once-prominent neo-Nazi organisation in the United States.
Receipts published by the SPLC appear to show Mair had literature detailing how to make homemade guns and bombs.
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