Patel and Buckland ‘really on board’ with Harper’s Law, says Pc’s widow

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The widow of tragic Pc Andrew Harper said senior Government figures have signalled their backing for her campaign for Harper’s Law after a face-to-face meeting with Priti Patel and Robert Buckland.

Lissie Harper said the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary “offered their support and said they’re going to back us” during a 45-minute meeting at the Home Office on Wednesday.

Mrs Harper is campaigning for a new law meaning those who kill emergency workers due to a criminal act are jailed for life, after the three teenagers responsible for her 28-year-old husband’s death were handed determinate prison sentences for manslaughter.

“Creating new legislation is going to be complicated and I am under no illusions that there is a process – but I am totally determined.”

She said she would seek cross-party support from MPs in the coming days.

She added: “The Justice Secretary is going to go away and look at it, he seems really interested in our ideas, so I am feeling really encouraged by that next step.

“I was pleasantly surprised at how supportive they are being, this is what we need to see. I’m really impressed that they see this as important as we do.”

Police officer killed in Sulhamstead
Lissie Harper, the widow of Pc Andrew Harper, outside the Home Office following a meeting with Home Secretary Priti Patel to discuss Harper’s Law (Jonathan Brady/PA)

It came as a petition backing the “vital and urgent” law change reached more than 650,000 signatures.

In a joint statement, Ms Patel and Mr Buckland said: “Pc Andrew Harper was a hero whose loss has been felt across the country – but mostly by his wife, family and friends.

“We were pleased to sit down with Lissie today. She is extraordinarily courageous and her dedication to honouring her husband’s memory is commendable.”

A Government spokesman declined to elaborate on whether that meant they backed a new law, as opposed to just offering support to the campaign.

Under current law in England and Wales, those convicted of murder are routinely handed life sentences with a minimum term of imprisonment.

Lissie Harper, the widow of Pc Andrew Harper, alongside Justice Secretary Robert Buckland (second left), Sgt Andy Fiddler, Thames Valley Police Federation (left), and Home Secretary Priti Patel (right) during a meeting at the Home Office in London
Lissie Harper, the widow of Pc Andrew Harper, alongside Justice Secretary Robert Buckland (second left), Sgt Andy Fiddler, of Thames Valley Police Federation (left), and Home Secretary Priti Patel (right) during a meeting at the Home Office in London (Martis Media/{PA)

Andrew Harper had been married for just four weeks when he was caught in a tow strap attached to a getaway car and dragged to his death as he and a Thames Valley Police colleague responded to a late-night burglary in Sulhamstead, Berkshire, in August last year.

Two of Pc Harper’s killers – 18-year-olds Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole – have lodged applications with the Court of Appeal seeking permission to challenge their manslaughter convictions and their 13-year prison sentences.

They were jailed alongside getaway driver Henry Long, 19, who was handed a 16-year sentence, also for manslaughter.

Attorney General Suella Braverman has also referred the jail terms to the Court of Appeal to consider whether the sentences were unduly lenient.

Andrew Harper's widow Lissie has launched a campaign to jail for life those who kill police officers or other emergency workers
Andrew Harper’s widow Lissie has launched a campaign to jail for life those who kill police officers or other emergency workers (Martis Media/PA)

“I told Ms Patel and Mr Buckland in no uncertain terms my widely held view that the justice system is broken, and that we need Harper’s Law to help fix it.

“The least we can expect from our justice system is that it ensures criminals who kill those emergency services workers protecting us are given appropriate and substantial prison sentences.”

She added: “Being here at the Home Office and meeting with key members of the Government is a great accomplishment for the campaign. But this is not the end of the road.”

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