Brave actions by a member of the public and two police officers following the murder of Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Bernard Kenny who tried to help Jo after she was shot and stabbed in Birstall market place on June 16 last year has been awarded the George Medal. PCs Craig Nicholls and Jonathan Wright who bravely arrested her armed killer minutes later have been awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.
The citations read as follows:
Bernard Carter Kenny, Civilian
For his assistance to Jo Cox MP
On 16 June, 2016, Bernard Kenny was sitting in his car in the vicinity of Birstall Library. He noticed a car pull up and park outside the library. The driver got out and went towards the back door, which she opened for the passenger, Jo Cox MP. The two women stepped onto the pavement while another woman also got out of the car.
Shortly after, a loud bang rang out. Jo Cox was shot and fell to the ground. A man stood over her, brandishing a knife. Kenny got out of his car and ran across to where the MP was lying with the intention of intervening to prevent further attack: he could see that the assailant had a knife and was stabbing the MP. The attacker noticed Kenny approaching, turned around and stabbed him in the stomach, wounding him badly. Kenny, bleeding profusely, staggered back across the road.
Kenny sat down on the steps of a nearby shop. The shop staff dragged him inside to safety. Kenny received assistance for injuries, while the emergency services were notified. From where he was seated, he could see that the MP was still being attacked. The attacker was shouting in an agitated tone and appeared to be punching or stabbing the MP who was curled up on the ground. Kenny was taken to hospital and given treatment for a damaged liver. Mr Kenny said: “I am honoured to receive such an award.”
PC Craig Nicholls, West Yorkshire Police
PC Jonathan Wright, West Yorkshire Police
For the arrest of the murderer of Jo Cox MP
On 16 June 2016, West Yorkshire Police received a report that Jo Cox MP had been stabbed and shot outside Birstall Library. The suspect had left the immediate scene armed with a knife and a gun. His whereabouts and intentions were not known. PC Nicholls and his colleague PC Wright, both unarmed and on routine patrol, decided to make their way in the general direction of the incident. They noticed a man who took evasive action to avoid being seen. They pursued the man, knowing that he was potentially the suspect who had shot and stabbed one person and stabbed another. They quickly confirmed that, and realised that the suspect was likely still to be armed with a gun and a knife. Of concern was the fact that there were numerous members of public on the street going about their normal business. They therefore continued to follow the suspect and began communicating with him. Doubtless under extreme pressure and fear of the unknown, the two officers decided instinctively to rush the suspect and arrest him to prevent him from committing any further acts of violence. A gun and a knife were subsequently found in his possession.
PC Nicholls said: “I am honoured, surprised and humbled – I wasn’t expecting this. Our thoughts remain with Jo’s family and friends. We have met members of her family who are incredible and extremely positive.
“On the day this happened, we were not due on patrol but our training was cancelled. When we heard what was happening we went straight to the area – we knew who we were looking for and what we were going towards but we knew that if he wasn’t stopped he could hurt someone else.”
PC Wright said: “I didn’t expect this – it’s taken me completely by surprise. I am really humbled and honoured to receive it.”
West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Dee Collins said: “I am delighted that the brave and heroic actions of Bernard Kenny, PCs Craig Nicholls and Jonathan Wright have been recognised in this way. They all showed tremendous courage putting other people’s safety ahead of their own.
“Bernard Kenny sustained serious injuries trying to protect Jo and the actions of the two officers prevented anyone else being hurt. I am very proud and humbled by what they did.”
West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson said: “The actions of Bernard Kenny, PC Nicholls and PC Wright on that day showed true selfless bravery. They risked everything to try to save someone and we won’t ever be able to thank them enough.
“The honours they are due to receive could not be more well deserved and I would like to congratulate all three of them.”