Sir David Amess remembered as 'man of peace' by heartbroken family

Sir David Amess has been remembered by his family as a "man of peace".(Photo: ITV News)

The family of murdered MP Sir David Amess have paid a moving tribute in which they call for tolerance "whatever one's race, religious or political beliefs".

They said in a statement that the support shown in the aftermath of his stabbing on Friday had been "overwhelming" and "given us strength". 

"We have realised from tributes paid that there was far, far more to David than even we, those closest to him, knew," they said. 

"We are enormously proud of him. Our hearts are shattered." 

Sir David Amess was a committed Catholic and had been MP for Southend West since 1997. He was stabbed to death inside a Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea as he met constituents.

In the statement, his family paid tribute to the many projects he was committed to, including a campaign to fund a memorial to Dame Vera Lynn, and acquiring city status for Southend. 

"In his memory, please show your support for this campaign," the family said. 

The statement went on to call for tolerance and understanding in the wake of his death, which is being treated as a terrorist incident.

"Strong and courageous is an appropriate way to describe David. He was a patriot and a man of peace. So, we ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all," the family said.

"This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness. 

"Whatever one's race, religious or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand."

The statement ends with the hope that some good will come from his death.

"As a family, we are trying to understand why this awful thing has occurred. Nobody should die in that way. Nobody. Please let some good come from this tragedy," they say.

On Sunday, a special service was held at St Michael's and All Angels church where locals gathered to remember Sir David and light a candle for him. 

Police have arrested Ali Harbi Ali on suspicion of murder. The 25-year-old is a Briton of Somali heritage and is the only suspect in the case.

Police are pursuing the possibility that the attack on Sir David was motivated by Islamic extremism.