Boris Johnson was today grilled in a live TV interview for doing “nothing for 10 years” to prevent Friday’s London Bridge terror attack.
BBC interviewer Andrew Marr repeatedly challenged the Tory leader after he blamed Labour policies for Usman Khan’s release from jail.
And the PM was branded a liar by former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal – who said he personally warned Mr Johnson in 2016 about the lack of resources for deradicalisation, but was dismissed because it would cost money.
Convicted terrorist Khan, 28 – who was freed on licence last year – killed a woman and 25-year-old Jack Merritt in a knife rampage at a rehabilitation conference before being shot by police.
Vowing to force all terrorists to serve every day of their sentence behind bars, Mr Johnson blamed a 2008 law “which established automatic early release” for them.
But BBC host Mr Marr said: “For 10 years you’ve done nothing about it! For 10 years you’ve done nothing about it! For 10 years you’ve done nothing about it!”
Mr Johnson said: “You can’t change the basis on which someone is sentenced. You’re talking about Usman Khan. I’m talking about the future.”
Mr Marr hit back: “For 10 years you’ve done nothing to change the system.”
Mr Johnson said: “I’ve been in office for 120 days. We’re going to bring in tougher sentences for serious sexual and violent offenders, and for terrorists.”
The PM added he “absolutely deplored” that Khan was out on the streets and it was “absolutely repulsive”.
Mr Marr said: “That repulsive thing happened under the Conservatives. It was Conservative legislation and a Conservative regime.
“Would you like to apologise to people for the fact that happened?”
But instead of apologising the Prime Minister said: “I respectfully repeat to you that his release was necessary under the law because of the automatic early release scheme under which he was sentenced.
“That was the reality, and that was brought in by Labour with the support of Jeremy Corbyn and the rest of the Labour Party.
“I opposed it both in 2003 and 2008, and now that I am Prime Minister I’m going to take steps to make sure that people are not released early when they commit… serious sexual, violent or terrorist offences.”
But the Prime Minister has been accused of misleading the public and politicising the attack because the changes would not have applied in this case.
Khan was sentenced to indeterminate detention for “public protection” with a minimum jail term of eight years, but which would have allowed him to be kept in prison beyond that time, after being convicted for involvement in a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange.
In 2013, the Court of Appeal quashed the sentence, replacing it with a 16-year-fixed term of which Khan should serve half in prison.
He was released automatically on licence in December 2018 without the involvement of the parole board.
Former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal accused the Tory leader of lying.
He said: “30 years working in criminal justice. Half that time at Chief Officer level Having overseen prosecution of perhaps a million cases. Worked with dozens of ministers of all parties.
“I have never felt need to say this: This Prime Minister (& Home Secretary) are both lying to us.”
Mr Afzal tweeted yesterday: “I don’t normally share private conversations but forgive me as it’s now relevant.
“On June 30th 2016 at the Brunel Uni 50th anniversary function, the local MP Boris Johnson asked me ‘what in the justice system keeps me awake?’.
“Me – ‘lack of money’. Him – ‘apart from that’.
“I said ‘that terrorists from a decade ago were due to be released still radicalised’.
“Him ‘is there anything we can do about that?’
“Me ‘it’s resources for one to one mentoring and deradicalisation’.
“Him ‘but that’s money again’.
“Me ‘sorry nothing else will do’.
“Him ‘got to go’.”