Met chief de­fends West­min­ster of­fi­cer

The Daily Telegraph - - Front Page - By Martin Evans, Crime Cor­re­spon­dent

Cres­sida Dick, the Metropoli­tan Po­lice com­mis­sioner, yes­ter­day said that the crit­i­cism of Sir Craig Mackey for his fail­ure to act dur­ing the West­min­ster ter­ror at­tack was “ig­no­rant” and “wrong”. Sir Craig has faced ac­cu­sa­tions of cow­ardice af­ter he told an in­quest that he locked him­self in his car dur­ing Khalid Ma­sood’s at­tack last year. Ms Dick said: “Sir Craig had ab­so­lutely no op­por­tu­nity to stop the killer… any­one who sug­gests oth­er­wise is sim­ply wrong.”

CRES­SIDA DICK, the Metropoli­tan Po­lice com­mis­sioner, has de­fended the ac­tions of Sir Craig Mackey, her deputy, dur­ing the West­min­ster ter­ror at­tack, in­sist­ing crit­i­cism of his fail­ure to act was “ig­no­rant” and “wrong”.

Sir Craig faced ac­cu­sa­tions of cow­ardice and even calls for his knight­hood to be stripped af­ter he told an in­quest that he locked him­self in his car dur­ing Khalid Ma­sood’s mur­der­ous ram­page last year.

But Mark Lu­craft QC, the chief coro­ner, said Sir Craig’s ac­tions were “sen­si­ble and proper” and he could have done noth­ing to pre­vent the tragedy.

Ma­sood killed four pedes­tri­ans and se­ri­ously in­jured 29 by ram­ming them with a hired SUV on West­min­ster Bridge. He then stabbed Pc Keith Palmer to death out­side the Houses of Par­lia­ment be­fore a po­lice of­fi­cer shot him dead.

The in­quest heard that Sir Craig’s first in­stinct when he saw the at­tack was to get out of the car, but a uni­formed of­fi­cer told him to stay put be­cause he had no pro­tec­tive equip­ment and would have been in the fir­ing line.

Af­ter the in­quest, Ms Dick said there had been an “ex­tra­or­di­nary amount of con­fused, un­pleas­ant, per­son­alised and ig­no­rant com­men­tary by some on the ac­tions of the deputy com­mis­sioner”. These crit­i­cisms were “sim­ply not sup­ported by the ev­i­dence”.

Ms Dick added: “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 po­lice staff col­leagues in the car with him. He went on to lead the Met’s re­sponse to the at­tack with dis­tinc­tion.”

Ms Dick’s com­ments were echoed by Neil Basu, Bri­tain’s se­nior counter-ter­ror of­fi­cer, who said some of the crit­i­cism of his col­league was “ab­hor­rent”.

Mr Basu said: “I had the ad­van­tage of over­see­ing this in­quiry, and both I and the in­ves­ti­ga­tors know there is noth­ing that Sir Craig could have done.”

He said that if Sir Craig had got out of the car, he would have put him­self in the po­lice line of fire, thus pre­vent­ing the shot that killed Ma­sood, 52.

The Mus­lim con­vert car­ried out the 82-sec­ond at­tack on March 22 last year. A jury of seven men and four women at the in­quest into his death took two hours and 22 min­utes to de­cide that he was law­fully killed.

The at­tack killed Pc Palmer, 48, Kurt Cochran, 54, an Amer­i­can tourist, Les­lie Rhodes, 75, a re­tired win­dow cleaner, Aysha Frade, 44, a mother-oftwo, and An­dreea Cris­tea, 31, a Ro­ma­nian de­signer. Mr Lu­craft found af­ter an ear­lier in­quest that Ma­sood un­law­fully killed them all.

The coro­ner said there were “short­com­ings” in Palace se­cu­rity, and it was pos­si­ble that Pc Palmer may not have died if armed of­fi­cers had been posted near the Car­riage Gates.

The Met “un­re­servedly” ac­cepted his con­clu­sions on se­cu­rity.

Neil Basu, the UK’S se­nior counter-ter­ror of­fi­cer, said crit­i­cism of Sir Craig was ‘ab­hor­rent’

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