Westminster terror attack: 'How could Keith have been left alone?'

The widow of the police officer killed during the Westminster attack says her husband was left "in a vulnerable location, with no protection, to die".

It comes after the coroner said Keith Palmer's death on 22 March last year could "possibly" have been prevented if armed officers had been nearby.

"Shortcomings in the security system" meant they were unaware they should have been on guard near his position.

All five victims of the terror attack were "unlawfully killed", he ruled.

They were PC Palmer, 48, Kurt Cochran, 54, Leslie Rhodes, 75, Aysha Frade, 44, and Andreea Cristea, 31.

Their killer, Khalid Masood, was shot dead by police just inside the entrance to the Palace of Westminster. The inquest into his death will take place next.

What did the coroner say?

Chief Coroner Mark Lucraft QC, at the Old Bailey, has carried out the month-long inquests of those who died.

Giving his ruling on Wednesday, he praised the "great dignity" of their families throughout the process and also the "quite overwhelming" response from medics and members of the public.

He said that on on 22 March 2017, Masood had driven a hired SUV at an average speed of 30 to 42mph with "clear murderous intent", killing four pedestrians and seriously injuring 29 others, before attacking PC Palmer.

The coroner highlighted the actions of one victim, Mr Cochran, whom he said had "pushed his wife away from the path of Masood's vehicle" - "an instinctive act" which "almost certainly had the effect" of saving her life.

As part of the inquest, the coroner has also been examining security issues, including armed policing at Parliament, security on the bridge and what security service MI5 knew about Masood prior to his attack.

He said PC Palmer had been "fulfilling his job to protect the Palace and those within it" and "did not shrink from" performing that duty.

He was wearing a protective vest but was not armed, and the coroner said that had armed officers been stationed alongside him, they may have been able to prevent him suffering fatal injuries.

How have relatives reacted?

PC Palmer's widow, Michelle Palmer, said in a statement that the authorities let her husband down by failing to protect him and let the family down by failing to investigate his death properly.

She said: "How could Keith have been left alone, unarmed, guarding an open gate at one of the most iconic buildings in the world and one of the country's top terrorist targets?"

She added: "What makes it even worse is that this lax security had been carrying on for years and it has taken what happened to Keith for things to change."

The parents and sisters of PC Palmer, who would have turned 50 on Wednesday, said the inquest had been "traumatic" and "extremely difficult".

They said the coroner should have gone further in his findings, accusing senior Met officers of closing ranks.

What's the police's response?

Neil Basu, head of counter-terror policing at Scotland Yard, said the Met accepted the coroner's conclusions "unreservedly".

He said: "Even the possibility that the Met lost the chance to prevent the murder of such a brave and courageous officer is unacceptable. For the loss of that possibility… we are deeply sorry."

Security arrangements had been "substantially changed" since that day, he added, and further changes would be made if recommended by the coroner.

Graphic showing how Westminster attack unfolded

The attack lasted82 seconds.

  • 14:40:08- Masood's car mounts pavement on Westminster Bridge and hits pedestrians
  • 14:40:18- It hits another group of pedestrians and the impact sends Andreea Cristea over the side and into the river
  • 14:40:38- Masood crashes into perimeter fence of Palace of Westminster
  • 14:40:59- First 999 call made to Met police
  • 14:41:30- Masood leaves vehicle, stabbed PC Palmer, and is shot dead

Who were the victims?

Clockwise from top left - PC Keith Palmer, Aysha Frade, Leslie Rhodes, Andreea Cristea and Kurt Cochran

Image copyrightMET POLICE/SOCIAL MEDIAImage captionClockwise from top left: PC Keith Palmer, Aysha Frade, Leslie Rhodes, Andreea Cristea and Kurt Cochran all lost their lives

PC Keith Palmerhad a young daughter. He was a member of the parliamentary and diplomatic protection squad who had served with the Met for 15 years.

Aysha Fradehad been walking across Westminster Bridge to pick up her two young daughters from school when she was killed. The British national worked as a PA at a nearby independent sixth-form.

Leslie Rhodesa retired window cleaner from Clapham, south London, had been visiting St Thomas' Hospital when he was hit by the car driven by Masood.

Kurt Cochranfrom the US state of Utah, was in London as part of a holiday celebrating 25 years of marriage to Melissa, who was seriously injured in the attack.

Andreea Cristeawas a Romanian tourist. She had been with her boyfriend, Andrei Burnaz, who had been planning to propose to her that day.

Westminster attack London Westminster attack inquest
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
1 view in july
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

An EE customer has said she was stalked by an ex-partner who worked at the firm, after he accessed her personal data without permission. Francesca Bonafede's number was switched to a new handset and her address and bank details were accessed. She said the company failed to take the data breach seriously and she had to involve police. EE "sincerely apologised" to Ms Bonafede, and said the employee no longer worked for the company. 'They didn't seem concerne...
West Ham say they have handed over all of their evidence to the police after completing a "thorough and immediate" investigation into racist abuse shouted at Liverpool's Mohamed Salah. The incident happened during Monday's 1-1 draw at London Stadium. Egypt striker Salah, 26, was filmed on a mobile phone from a section of home supporters as he was taking a corner. "The club is unequivocal in its stance - such abuse will not be tolerated," West Ham said in a...
A body seen in the wreckage of the plane carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson has been recovered, investigators said. Remotely operated Vehicles (ROVs) were used in ‘challenging conditions’ to pull the body out of the water ‘in as dignified a way as possible’ the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said on Wednesday night. The body is being taken to Portland to be passed over to the Dorset coroner for examination, t...
The US president, who has repeatedly criticised the military alliance, would meet with heads of state in London, Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg announced on Wednesday. It would be Mr Trump's second visit to Britain since his election, having jetted in amid swathes of protest last July. I am pleased to announce that allies have agreed that the next meeting of Nato heads of state and government will take place in London in December 2019. The meeting...
Rolf Harris was jailed for five years and nine months in 2014 but released on licence in May 2017 Credit: PA Officials are investigating a report that disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris walked onto the grounds of a primary school and waved at pupils. The convicted sex offender went onto the premises of Oldfield Primary School near his home in Bray, Maidenhead, to talk to a sculptor working in the grounds, the Daily Mirror reported. Harris, who was jailed fo...
Two men have been arrested on suspicion of murder after a teenager was stabbed to death. Police and London Ambulance Service were called to Wolsey Court, off Westbridge Road in Battersea, at 7.52pm on Tuesday following reports of a stabbing. A 19-year-old man was found with stab injuries and died at the scene at 8.36pm despite paramedics battling to save his life. The stabbing took place less than half a mile from Prince George's primary school, Thomas's B...
The girl, who has been named Roman by nurses, was found at around 10pm on Thursday in the park in Roman Road in East Ham.  Police said Roman was wrapped in a white towel and placed in the shopping bag on the ground next to a bench in the small children's play park.  The baby was rushed to hospital where she was in a stable condition on Friday morning, the Metropolitan Police said.  Roman was discovered by grandmother-of-one Rima Zvaliauskiene, 50, just 100...
The operation to recover the doomed plane carrying Emiliano Sala off Guernsey could be hampered by days of poor weather as the man brought in by the footballer's family to find him said he could be in the wreckage. The English Channel is being battered by torrential ran, 40mph winds and 10ft waves with the poor conditions set to continue - and worsen - until the end of the week, MailOnline can reveal today. The families of the £15million striker and his pi...
Train passengers are being warned of major disruption after overhead electric wires were damaged near one of London’s busiest stations. Network Rail said services travelling to and from Liverpool Street could be cancelled or revised until 8am on Thursday. Wires between Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green, east London, were damaged, with the outage impacting Greater Anglia, London Overground, Stansted Express and Transport for London Rail services. Passenger...