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