Coro­ner: Met boss right to stay in car in ter­ror at­tack

Daily Mail - - EDEN CONFIDENTIAL - By Chris Green­wood Chief Crime Cor­re­spon­dent

A CORO­NER yes­ter­day de­fended a top po­lice of­fi­cer who sat in his locked car as an un­armed PC was mur­dered in the West­min­ster ter­ror at­tack.

Judge Mark Lu­craft said it was ‘sen­si­ble and proper’ for Sir Craig Mackey to stay out of harm’s way.

He said there was ‘ clearly noth­ing’ the Scot­land Yard act­ing com­mis­sioner could do to stop Khalid Ma­sood fa­tally stab­bing PC Keith Palmer.

The Chief Coro­ner’s re­marks came as an in­quest jury found Ma­sood, 52, was law­fully killed when he was shot dead by an armed body­guard out­side Par­lia­ment in March last year.

It took Old Bai­ley ju­rors just un­der an hour to re­turn the ver­dict.

Judge Lu­craft said: ‘It’s clear from the ev­i­dence of Sir Craig that there was... noth­ing that he could have done to have stopped Ma­sood. PC Palmer was un­der at­tack prac­ti­cally as soon as Sir Craig saw the at­tacker. What Sir Craig did was sen­si­ble and proper and was in­tended to pro­tect oth­ers in the car with him.

‘ None of them... had any means of pro­tect­ing them­selves or of re­sist­ing an at­tack. Even if he had got out of the car, it is clear from the CCTV ev­i­dence that he would not have reached PC Palmer be­fore Ma­sood had in­flicted the fa­tal wound. In­deed, it’s very likely that Ma­sood would have been past the car even if Sir Craig had got out of it.’

Sir Craig faces crit­i­cism for not in­ter­ven­ing as Ma­sood ran amok with two knives at Par­lia­ment.

The £270,000-a-year of­fi­cer was leav­ing a meet­ing with po­lice min­is­ter Bran­don Lewis with his driver and chief of staff as the ter­ror­ist ran into New Palace Yard.

Mo­ments ear­lier the drifter, thug and ca­reer crim­i­nal had killed four pedes­tri­ans on West­min­ster Bridge with his rented four-wheel drive.

Giv­ing ev­i­dence dur­ing the in­quest, Sir Craig said he went to open the car door but an of­fi­cer out­side told him to ‘go’ as it was ‘the right thing to do’.

His fiercest crit­ics later dubbed him ‘Com­mis­sioner Cow­ard’ and even called for him to be stripped of his knight­hood. They said his lack of ac­tion was in stark con­trast to the hero­ics of rank- and- file of­fi­cers dur­ing the sub­se­quent Lon­don Bridge at­tack.

Speak­ing af­ter the in­quest, As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Neil Basu branded the tidal wave of crit­i­cism aimed at Sir Craig ‘ab­hor­rent’.

He said: ‘We must all re­mem­ber who was re­spon­si­ble for this at­tack – a ter­ror­ist – and not give such peo­ple the com­fort that they have some­how di­vided us as a re­sult of their ac­tions.’

Last night, Scot­land Yard Com­mis­sioner Cressida Dick de­fended her deputy. She called the al­le­ga­tions ‘ con­fused, un­pleas­ant, per­son­alised and ig­no­rant’, adding: ‘These crit­i­cisms are sim­ply not sup­ported by the ev­i­dence.

‘Sir Craig had ab­so­lutely no op­por­tu­nity to stop the killer or save PC Palmer. Any­one who sug­gests oth­er­wise is sim­ply wrong. The ac­tions he was able to and did take were to pro­tect the un­armed col­leagues who were in the car with him.’

Crit­i­cised: Sir Craig Mackey

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