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Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 15:11 GMT
Police death 'wake-up call to UK'
Tony Blair
The prime minister led tributes to the officer
The murder of Manchester police officer Stephen Oake will redouble the UK's determination to tackle all terrorism, Tony Blair has said.

Dc Stephen Oake, 40, was stabbed during a raid in Manchester, which was linked to the recent find of deadly poison ricin in London.

His family has lost a very fine man, the community has lost a very fine police officer

Tony Blair

At prime minister's questions, Mr Blair said he had met Dc Oake more than once when the officer had been in his protection squad on visits to Manchester.

Mr Blair told MPs: "His family has lost a very fine man, the community has lost a very fine police officer."

He spoke of Parliament's "shock and outrage at this wicked murder" and their sympathy for Dc Oake's family.

Mr Blair said he had spoken to Michael Todd, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, on Wednesday morning.

Mr Todd had told him he was doing all he could to establish the "precise facts" of the incident.

'Wake up call'

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith also voiced his sympathy for the family of the father-of-three.

The murder was "a wake-up call to the nation" in reminding people of the threat facing the UK, argued the Tory leader.

Mr Duncan Smith pressed for new measures to ensure terrorists could not "abuse the asylum system".

The prime minister argued such measures were already in place through anti-terrorism laws passed in the wake of the 11 September attacks.

Earlier, the prime minister's official spokesman said it was too early to question the way police had handled the raid.

The spokesman added: "If there are any operational lessons to be learned then, as the chief constable has said, he will take that forward in due course."

Home Secretary David Blunkett also expressed shock at the events in Manchester.

"My thoughts are with all of those injured and my deepest condolences go out to the families of the officer who was killed," he said.

"I commend the bravery and commitment of these police officers in defending us not only against dangerous criminals but against those threatening the safety of our country."

The home secretary later told MPs the raid began after he ordered two suspects to be detained under counter-terrorism laws.

For the Conservatives, Oliver Letwin said the whole would mourn the murder of a "hero who died defending us from terrorism".

"The whole nation will mourn the murder of a hero who died defending us from terrorism.

'Front line'

"I profoundly hope that all the Police Officers injured will have a full and speedy recovery.

Oliver Letwin
Mr Letwin hailed the officer as a hero
"This episode illustrates all too clearly the nature of the danger with which we are faced."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes said the tragedy was a stark reminder of the danger faced "by all those on the front line of the campaign against terrorism".

"Our support and solidarity goes to the officers of Greater Manchester," said Mr Hughes.

"But we must not be deflected from the pursuit of those who try by violence to undermine democracy.

"The best response is sorrow and anger but followed by determination and renewed commitment to the rule of law."

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Prime Minister Tony Blair
"This should redouble our determination to tackle terrorism"

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14 Jan 03 | England

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