Met chief was in car nearby as terrorist killed unarmed officer

Sir Craig Mackey stayed in his car during the Westminster attack because he and his colleagues had no protective equipment. Picture: contributed
Sir Craig Mackey stayed in his car during the Westminster attack because he and his colleagues had no protective equipment. Picture: contributed
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The acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police stayed in his car as terrorist Khalid Masood murdered an unarmed officer because he had no protective equipment, an inquest has heard.

Sir Craig Mackey, now Deputy Commissioner of Scotland Yard, had been to a meeting with Policing Minister Brandon Lewis and was being driven out of the Palace of Westminster when the attack happened on 22 March last year.

Masood, 52, had mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing his hired SUV into the perimeter fence near the Houses of Parliament, running through the gates and stabbing unarmed Pc Keith Palmer to death.

The inquest into his death heard that Sir Craig, then acting Scotland Yard chief, and his colleagues locked the car doors because they had “no protective equipment and no radio”.

The officer told the jury how he had heard an “abnormally loud bang” that he feared was an explosion, before seeing Masood, with a butcher’s knife in his hand, attack Pc Palmer.

“There was quite a lot of confusion about what was going on. Clearly the way that the male came in and the purposeful way he came, he was clearly a threat,” Sir Craig told the Old Bailey.

The senior officer saw the constable suffer “two determined stab wounds”.

He said: “I could see Pc Palmer moving backwards and him going down.”

Sir Craig, who retires in December, went on: “The attacker had one of those looks where, if they get you in that look, they would be after you.

“He seemed absolutely focused on getting further down and attacking anyone who was in his way.”

He told the jury: “The thing that still shakes me about the attack is that it was 80-plus seconds in total. It didn’t feel like that, it felt an awfully long time.”

Masood was shot by a close protection officer after killing Pc Palmer.

Asked what his reaction was following the gunshots, Sir Craig said: “First and foremost I was a police officer so I went to open the door to get out.

“One of the Pcs, quite rightfully, said: ‘Get out, make safe, go, shut the door,’ which he did, and it was the right thing to do.

“That’s when I thought: ‘I have got to start putting everything we need in place. We have got no protective equipment, no radio, I have got two colleagues with me who are quite distressed,’ so we moved out.”

Sir Craig told jurors it was his “instinct” to get out of the car, but was in a short-sleeved shirt with no equipment following the ministerial meeting.

Masood, 52, killed four people on the bridge - American tourist Kurt Cochran, 54, retired window cleaner Leslie Rhodes, 75, Aysha Frade, 44, and Romanian tourist Andreea Cristea, 31 - and seriously injured 29 others.

The inquest was adjourned until tomorrow.