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Chance to save Pc Palmer lost for lack of armed officers, inquest told

Keith Palmer was stabbed outside the Palace of Westminster (Stefan Rousseau/PA) Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

Armed officers were “nowhere to be seen” when a terrorist wielding two foot-long knives cut down Pc Keith Palmer in scenes likened to a horror film, an inquest heard.

Khalid Masood, 52, repeatedly stabbed Pc Keith Palmer inside the Palace of Westminster and appeared “animated and frenzied” as he headed towards the MPs’ entrance looking for more victims.

For 46 minutes before, there were no signs of the “roving” firearms squad near the open Carriage Gates into New Palace Yard where Pc Palmer was killed.

Some colleagues, with batons and CS spray, ran away when confronted by the robot-like attacker who had a large knife in each hand, the Old Bailey heard.

Dominic Adamson, representing the officer’s widow Michelle, said it was an “understandable” reaction to what was “not an equal fight”.

The Palace of Westminster’s Carriage Gates were said to be vulnerable Credit: John Stillwell/PA

He said the gates were “vulnerable” to attack and one of the most “identifiable and exploitable weaknesses”.

He said: “The evidence will show that for at least 46 minutes there is no evidence of authorised firearms officers (AFOs) being present or in close proximity to the gates in the CCTV footage.”

He told the court when they were needed, they were “nowhere to be seen”.

Witnesses described the horrific scenes at the Palace of Westminster before Masood was brought down by a plainclothes officer, who shot him three times.

Pc Keith Palmer was stabbed by Khalid Masood Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

James West, who was inside Portcullis House, said Masood was “stabbing downwards, like you see in a horror film… in a Hollywood stabbing motion”.

“I remember being amazed because the officer managed to get up after being attacked, after being stabbed so many times.”

John Campbell said the attacker seemed “animated and frenzied” afterwards, adding: “He was looking for another victim.”

Pc James Ross said a passer-by shouted in his face: “There’s a man with bloody big knives running this way.”

He said: “I saw the suspect had a knife in each hand with blades around a foot long and he was stabbing Pc Palmer in and around the head area.

“He was hitting with such force that the blade was bending.”

Masood was shot by a plainclothes officer Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

Pc Ross said he was trying to get his CS spray out and when he looked back he could only see Masood.

He went on: “The attacker was walking towards me. He had the knives in his hands. I had a moment at that time I have never been able to remember from when he was walking towards me. I still have no recollection of it.”

Referring to what he has since seen on CCTV footage, Pc Ross added: “I have run to the gate, then stopped, turned around, then (I was) running at the suspect with some kind of plan in my head to try and tackle him before he got anyone else.”

He told the court armed officers used to be stationed at the heavy open gates but in 2017 they had a “roving patrol”.

Pc Doug Glaze thought there was a “Mumbai-style attack” and shouted for “firearms” after hearing an explosion and screams.

He said: “I looked over my right shoulder. I saw who I now know to be Masood inside, already, the grounds.

“He was walking like a robot with his arms going up and down.”

Asked about his reaction, Pc Glaze said: “I remember thinking, ‘we’re going to die.’”

Mr Adamson suggested the chance to save Pc Palmer “was lost” for the lack of armed presence on the spot.

Pc Glaze, who used to be an armed officer, said: “Certainly had firearms officers been there the threat maybe could have been neutralised.”

File picture of armed police officers on patrol Credit: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

Senior parliamentary assistant Antonia Kerridge watched Masood stab Pc Palmer up to four times from her office in Portcullis House opposite.

Gareth Patterson QC, for families of other victims, said the attack came after Theresa May had finished Prime Minister’s Questions.

He asked: “If he had made it to the members’ entrance does it allow him access to the Chamber?”

Ms Kerridge said there was a network of corridors and rooms, but they would eventually lead there.

Mr Patterson continued: “We know there had been PMQs that day at 12pm and PMQs had finished by the time of this attack. Is that the entrance the PM leaves the courtyard and she would no doubt have an office in the building beyond that entrance?”

The witness said: “Presumably yes, along with other ministers who would work there.”

Frantic scenes of people rushing to offer first aid were captured on a mobile phone.

A man could be heard urging Pc Palmer to fight for his life, shouting: “Keith, come on son.”

An ambulance arrived on the scene just before 3pm but efforts to save Pc Palmer’s life stopped at 3.15pm.

The attack on Pc Palmer came after Masood had mowed down and killed four pedestrians on Westminster Bridge.