UK

Westminster attacker was lawfully killed, inquest jury decides

Khalid Masood Image copyright Daily Mail / Solo Syndication

Westminster attacker Khalid Masood was lawfully killed after murdering five people, an inquest has concluded.

He died after being shot by a minister's bodyguard in the Palace of Westminster on 22 March last year.

Masood had ploughed through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in a car, killing four, and stabbed PC Keith Palmer.

Met Police chief Cressida Dick praised the "professionalism, bravery and compassion shown by the plain clothed officers in stopping a terrorist".

The inquest jury at the Old Bailey found that Masood was intent on inflicting "serious harm" when he carried out the attack.

The jury said he had been issued with verbal warnings but "continued to move towards the close protection officers at speed" before being shot.

Image copyright Met Police/Social Media
Image caption Clockwise from top left: PC Keith Palmer, Aysha Frade, Leslie Rhodes, Andreea Cristea and Kurt Cochran all lost their lives

Chief coroner Mark Lucraft QC had earlier directed the jury to return a lawful killing verdict on the grounds that the bodyguard who shot Masood believed opening fire was necessary to defend himself and others.

Summing up the evidence he also said a senior policeman who witnessed the murder of PC Palmer from a locked car, staying inside because he had no protective equipment, had not been to blame.

Mr Lucraft said it was clear there was nothing Sir Craig Mackay, who was the Met's acting chief at the time, could have done to stop the killer.

"Even if he had got out of the car, it was clear from the CCTV evidence he would not have reached PC Palmer before Masood inflicted his fatal wounds," he said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sir Craig Mackey with current Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick, before the funeral of PC Palmer

Ms Dick said there had been an "extraordinary amount of confused, unpleasant, personalised and ignorant commentary" about Sir Craig's actions.

"The attack in New Palace Yard occurred and was stopped in seconds. Sir Craig had absolutely no opportunity to stop the killer or save PC Palmer. Anyone who suggests otherwise is simply wrong."

The Met Police also apologised after the coroner identified "shortcomings" in the security system at the palace where PC Palmer died.

An earlier inquest into the death of the five people killed by Masood heard there were no armed officers at the entrance to Parliament for almost an hour before the police officer was stabbed.

Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Neil Basu said: "Even the possibility that the Metropolitan Police Service lost the chance to prevent the murder of one of our officers is unacceptable and we are deeply sorry.

"Security arrangements have substantially changed since the attack and we will do everything possible to improve that position further."

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Media captionPolice officer: Why I tried to tackle Westminster attacker

Speaking outside the court, Mr Basu said the attack lasted just 82 seconds but had the most "appalling consequences".

"The two armed close protection officers who confronted this individual acted with great courage.

"They undoubtedly prevented others from being injured and further loss of life.

"I pay tribute to their tremendous professionalism and their bravery."

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