Statement from AC Neil Basu re Westminster terror attack inquests - Metropolitan Police
Follow Metropolitan Police

Statement from AC Neil Basu re Westminster terror attack inquests

News   •   Oct 12, 2018 15:57 BST

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu made the following statement outside the Old Bailey on 12 October:

"My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the victims, their families and loved ones who have been left devastated by their loss, as well as the many survivors. They have endured terrible suffering as a result of one individual’s barbaric actions and have shown tremendous dignity and immense strength as they have heard the evidence at the Old Bailey.

I welcome today’s verdict that our officers acted lawfully when they confronted an armed terrorist who murdered five people during this attack in London last year.

On the afternoon of 22 March, this terrorist drove a hired car across Westminster Bridge,deliberately driving into pedestrians before crashing the vehicle into the perimeter wall of the Palace of Westminster.

Armed with two knives, he then ran through Carriage Gates, the vehicle entrance to the Palace, and fatally stabbed PC Keith Palmer, an unarmed officer who was on duty protecting Parliament.

The whole attack - from when he drove onto Westminster bridge, to being shot by armed officers - lasted just 82 seconds but has had the most appalling consequences.

I would like to once again express my condolences to all the families and loved ones of his victims: Kurt Cochran, Leslie Rhodes, Aysha Frade, Andreea Cristea, and PC Keith Palmer.

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.

It will be hard to forget the heart-breaking testimony of the officer who shot this terrorist- a stark reminder that our officers are human and the distress that taking another person’s life causes, even if that individual is a terrorist, even if there is no alternative.

We also heard testimony from PC Nick Carlisle - a colleague of PC Palmer - who attempted to tackle the armed terrorist, which allowed his fellow officer to get up and away from his attacker. Just moments later, he then handcuffed the attacker after he was shot, fearing he may been wearing a suicide vest.

PC Carlisle did this with the aim of protecting his fellow officers and the public from further harm, whilst giving no regard to his own safety. His actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of the Metropolitan Police Service and are yet another example of the outstanding courage and professionalism demonstrated on a daily basis by police officers up and down this country.

On behalf of the Met Police, I would like toagain pay tribute to PC Palmer, a dedicated, well-loved, respected and courageous officer. PC Palmer was posthumously awarded the George Medal for gallantry, having died a hero as he bravely confronted an armed terrorist whilst on duty protecting Parliament.

I know I speak on behalf of colleagues from across the Met in expressing our deepest sympathies to PC Palmer’s family and the families and loved ones of all the victims at this difficult time. Our thoughts are also with the survivors, including some of our own officers, who were seriouslyinjured in this attack.

I would like to once again thank the Chief Coroner and the jury for their full and rigorous examination of the facts.

In relation to PC Palmer’s death, the Chief Coroner identified shortcomings in the security system at the Palace of Westminster, including the supervision of those engaged in those duties. We unreservedly accept his conclusions.

And as I said at the conclusion of the first part of the inquests, which examined the deaths of the victims, even the possibility that the Met Police 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 that is possible to improve the position further. We now await the Chief Coroner’s detailed conclusions as to the reason Article 2 was engaged in relation to PC Palmer’s death and we will consider those in full.

His Honour Judge Mark Lucraft QC also payed tribute to Detective Superintendent John Crossley of SO15 at New Scotland Yard and his team of detectives from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command for their work in identifying whether there was a further threat to the UK and collecting all the evidence on behalf of the coroner.

Lastly, can I turn to some of the abhorrent remarks circulating about Deputy Commissioner, Sir Craig Mackey.

I had the advantage of overseeing this inquiry, and both I and the investigators know there is nothing that Craig could have done to have stopped Masood or to have saved PC Palmer or any others from being injured.

Craig was in a car accompanied by two civilian staff members. Neither he nor the two civilian staff had any protective equipment with them. The inquest heard that his initial reaction as a police officer was to get out of the vehicle, but he was told not to do so by a uniformed officer at the scene. Had he done so it would have put Craig in the line of fire and prevented the protection officer from taking the shot, which stopped the terrorist once and for all.

Let me quote the words of the Chief Coroner, the person I know read, listened and watched every piece of evidence in this case. He said this:

What Sir Craig did was sensible and proper, and was intended to protect others in the car with him. None of them had any means of protecting themselves or of resisting an attack. Even if he had got out of the car, it is clear from the CCTV evidence that he would not have reached PC Palmer before Masood had inflicted the fatal wound. Indeed, it is very likely that Masood would have been past the car even if Sir Craig had got out of it. It is also clear that, after Masood had been shot, Sir Craig did not flee the scene. His first instinct was to get out in New Palace Yard, as we saw on the footage when he opened the car door. However, he was told by an officer to leave, and for good reason. You may well think that it was important for the most senior police officer in the country to be at New Scotland Yard where he could take command and control of what, at that time, could potentially have been part of a much larger attack.

Everyone involved in the terrible events that day has been left living with the painful legacy of one man’s murderous actions.

We must all remember who was responsible for this attack – a terrorist – and not give such people the comfort that they have somehow divided us as a result of their actions. We must all stand together and remember that it is only in standing together as a nation that we’ll defeat this great evil of our times.

At the centre of this are the victims and those injured as well as their loved ones. They remain our most important consideration and today will no doubt be another difficult day for them."