Of­fi­cer de­fended as jury says ter­ror­ist law­fully killed

The Scotsman - - Around Scotland - By EMILY PENNINK

A counter-ter­ror­ism chief has blasted “ab­hor­rent re­marks” lev­elled at a se­nior of­fi­cer who stayed in his car as an un­armed po­lice con­sta­ble was stabbed to death in the West­min­ster at­tack.

As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Neil Basu, who headed the in­quiry into the mur­der­ous ram­page, re­acted as an in­quest jury yes­ter­day found Khalid Ma­sood was law­fully killed when he was shot dead by a min­is­ter’s body­guard.

Speak­ing out­side the Old Bai­ley, Mr Basu paid trib­ute to the brav­ery of his of­fi­cers and said his thoughts re­mained with the vic­tims of Ma­sood’s “bar­baric ac­tions”.

On con­tro­versy over then­act­ing Com­mis­sioner Sir Craig Mackey’s de­ci­sion not to con­front Ma­sood, he said: “Can I turn to some of the ab­hor­rent re­marks cir­cu­lat­ing about the deputy com­mis­sioner Sir Craig Mackey?

“Both I and the in­ves­ti­ga­tors both know there is noth­ing that Craig could have done to have stopped Ma­sood or to have saved PC Palm- er or any oth­ers from be­ing in­jured.”

The in­quest had heard how Ma­sood – a 52-year-old Mus­lim con­vert – mowed down pedes­tri­ans on West­min­ster Bridge in a hired SUV, killing four and se­ri­ously in­jur­ing 29.

He crashed into rail­ings be­fore storm­ing through gates near the Houses of Par­lia­ment armed with two knives.

Ma­sood stabbed un­armed PC Keith Palmer to death be­fore be­ing shot dead by a body­guard who rushed to the scene. The at­tack on 22 March last year took just 82 sec­onds.

A jury of seven men and four women took two hours and 22 min­utes yes­ter­day to find Ma­sood was law­fully killed, adding in a short nar­ra­tive of the events lead­ing to his death.

They found Ma­sood in­tended to “in­flict se­ri­ous harm and/ or take a life” as he con­tin­ued with­out stop­ping or chang­ing di­rec­tion. He had been is­sued with ver­bal warn­ings, but “con­tin­ued to move to­ward the close pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers at speed” be­fore he was shot, the jury said.

Ear­lier Coro­ner Mark Lu­craft QC had di­rected the jury to re­turn a law­ful killing ver­dict as the body­guard who shot Ma­sood be­lieved it was nec­es­sary to open fire in de­fence of him­self and oth­ers.

The in­quest heard dra­matic ac­counts of how un­armed po­lice of­fi­cers and mem­bers of the pub­lic fled af­ter Ma­sood killed PC Palmer and con­tin­ued to ad­vance, clutch­ing blood­ied foot-long knives, in­tent on tar­get­ing more of­fi­cers.

His ram­page was stopped by a close pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer on site to act as body­guard to a govern­ment min­is­ter.

Sir Craig – one of the coun­try’s most se­nior po­lice of­fi­cers – faced calls on so­cial me­dia to re­sign af­ter he told the in­quest he had stayed in his of­fi­cial car as Ma­sood mur­dered PC Palmer.

Giv­ing his ac­count of events for the first time, he said he lockedthe­do­or­san­dremained in the ve­hi­cle with two civil­ian col­leagues be­cause they had no per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment or a ra­dio.

Af­ter Ma­sood was shot dead, Sir Craig, who is due to re­tire in De­cem­ber, tried to get out of the car, but was ad­vised by an of­fi­cer on guard at the site to leave.


Khalid Ma­sood killed four and se­ri­ously in­jured 29

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