The man accused of the terrorist murder of MP David Amess could face trial in March next year.

Ali Harbi Ali, 25, appeared in the crown court for the first time today by video-link from high security Belmarsh prison accused of stabbing to death the Conservative MP for Southend West during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex.

The defendant, wearing a grey sweatshirt and sat at a desk, lifted up his face mask to confirm his name and date of birth, during the brief hearing.

Mr Ali was not asked to enter pleas to charges of murdering Mr Amess, 69, last Friday and preparing acts of terrorism between 1 May 2019 and September this year.

Mr Justice Sweeney said a preliminary hearing would take place on 5 November at the same court.

He said a provisional trial date had been identified for 7 March next year.

Mr Ali's barrister Kevin Toomey made no application for bail and the defendant was remanded into custody.

He is accused of travelling by train from his home in Kentish Town, north London, to attend Mr Amess's surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church.

During the meeting, he was allegedly seen to use his mobile phone before standing up, producing a large knife from his pocket and repeatedly stabbing Mr Amess.

The veteran MP was pronounced dead at the scene at 1.10pm and a preliminary post-mortem report gave the cause of death as multiple stab wounds to the chest.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) alleges the murder has a terrorist connection because of its "religious and ideological" motives.

Mr Ali was arrested at the scene and charged on Thursday before appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court, which heard he had been plotting to kill an MP for two years.