Firearms po­lice ab­sent as Pc was killed

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Do­minic Nicholls DE­FENCE AND SE­CU­RITY CORRESPONDENT

FIREARMS of­fi­cers were “nowhere to be seen” for at least 46 min­utes be­fore Pc Keith Palmer was stabbed to death dur­ing the West­min­ster ter­ror­ist at­tack, an in­quest has heard.

Pc Palmer, 48, was po­si­tioned on the Car­riage Gates out­side the Houses of Par­lia­ment when he was stabbed to death by Khalid Ma­sood, 52, in March last year.

Do­minic Adam­son, rep­re­sent­ing the mur­dered of­fi­cer’s widow Michelle, said the gates were re­garded as “one of the most vul­ner­a­ble ar­eas of the New Palace Yard to an at­tack” and one of the most “iden­ti­fi­able and ex­ploitable weak­nesses”.

“The ev­i­dence will show that for at least 46 min­utes there is no ev­i­dence of au­tho­rised firearms of­fi­cers (AFO) present or in close prox­im­ity to the gates.”

He sug­gested the ar­range­ments meant an un­armed of­fi­cer would be left with a can of CS “spray and a ba­ton against a large man armed with two knives”. “It’s not an equal fight, a spray against knives,” he said.

Pc James Ross, a for­mer AFO, who was also un­armed and on duty at the time of the at­tack, told the court that armed of­fi­cers used to be sta­tioned at the heavy open gates but in 2017 they had moved to a “rov­ing pa­trol”. Of­fi­cers ran to help Pc Palmer, af­ter Ma­sood had crashed his hired car and run into New Palace Yard, where he stabbed the of­fi­cer who had stum­bled by a low wall.

One of those was Pc Ross, who was on duty nearby when a passer-by shouted in his face: “There’s a man with bloody big knives run­ning this way.”

He told the in­quest: “I saw the sus­pect had a knife in each hand with blades around a foot long and he was stab­bing PC Palmer in and around the head area. He was hit­ting with such force that the blade was bend­ing.”

Pc Ross said he was try­ing to take his CS spray out and when he looked back he could only see Ma­sood. He went on: “The at­tacker was walk­ing to­wards me. He had the knives in his hands. I had a mo­ment at that time I have never been able to re­mem­ber, from when he was walk­ing to­wards me. I still have no rec­ol­lec­tion of it.”

Asked if he thought he would have been able to take an ef­fec­tive shot at Ma­sood, had he been armed, Pc Ross said: “From where I was the at­tack was too close to Keith. It’s very hard to say.”

Ma­sood was shot dead by a plain­clothes of­fi­cer – un­der­stood to be the per­sonal body­guard of Michael Fal­lon, the for­mer de­fence sec­re­tary.

Wit­nesses told the in­quest a man could be heard urg­ing Pc Palmer to fight for his life, shout­ing: “Keith, come on son,” as mem­bers of the pub­lic tried to save his life.

Pc Palmer’s sis­ters failed in an at­tempt to ad­journ the in­quest at the Old Bai­ley. Su­san­nah Stevens, rep­re­sent­ing the sis­ters, An­gela Clark and Michelle Palmer, told the West­min­ster Bridge In­quest: “The fam­ily are ex­tremely dis­tressed by the fact that no­body from the Metropoli­tan Po­lice spoke to them to let them know there was any is­sue [lack of un­armed of­fi­cers].”

Ni­cholas Moss, coun­sel for the Par­lia­men­tary Au­thor­i­ties, op­posed Ms Stevens’ re­quest for an in­quest jury to be brought in, say­ing: “Pc Palmer’s death re­sulted from Ma­sood’s evil ac­tions, full stop.”

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