The widow of Pc Andrew Harper has said she was “encouraged” by a meeting with Priti Patel over a campaign for a new law she hopes will be a “fitting legacy” to the late police officer.
Newly-married Thames Valley Police officer Pc Harper was killed on August 15 last year by Henry Long, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, who were convicted of manslaughter last month but cleared of murder.
Long was jailed for 16 years and Bowers and Cole for 13 years. The Attorney General has referred the sentences to the Court of Appeal under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme.
His widow Lissie Harper, 29, is now calling for anyone guilty of killing an emergency services worker due to a criminal act to be jailed for life, with mandatory minimum terms.
After speaking with Ms Patel and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland about her campaign on Wednesday, Ms Harper said: “They spoke and listened well today and I am pleased to say they promised to work with us and support us in achieving our goal of providing justice to families of emergency services workers and stiffer and more appropriate sentences for those who take their lives.
“We know this won’t happen overnight and now wait for the next steps.
“We need change. I will not allow this to be kicked into the long grass. We need to properly protect our protectors. And I promise I won’t be shying away from the limelight to keep the pressure on those in power to make this happen.”
The widow explained that she believes changing the law would be a “fitting legacy” to her partner.
Ms Harper, who has said that “everything in my life is different now”, had been married to her 28-year-old husband for just four weeks when he was dragged behind a car and killed responding to a burglary in August last year.
In a joint statement issued after the meeting, Home Secretary Ms Patel and Justice Secretary Mr Buckland praised Ms Harper for her “extaordinary” courage.
They 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.”
Ms Harper 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 – this is the start of the journey to achieving Harper’s Law. I will keep going. I will continue to channel my grief to campaign for Harper’s Law,” she said.
“The people of Britain are tired of witnessing the leniency of our courts against the evil in our society.
“The support that we continue to receive from hundreds of thousands of people just highlights the disapproval and outrage over these injustices we all are made to accept
“Let’s get this changed. This would be a fitting legacy to Andrew.”
The Thames Valley Police Federation, posted on Facebook following the meeting, writing that Ms Harper was “encouraged, hopeful and more determined than ever” after the meeting.
The post stated that Ms Harper had described “a positive and very constructive” 45-minute meeting, at which she had been accompanied by Sgnt And Fiddler on behalf of the Police Federation of England and Wales, Mr Harper’s former employer.
A petition for the new law has already attracted more than 650,000 signatures.