'Armed police nowhere to be seen during Westminster attack'

Armed officers were 'nowhere to be seen' when a knife-wielding terrorist murdered Pc Keith Palmer during a 'horror film' attack, an inquest heard.
Khalid Masood, 52, repeatedly stabbed Pc 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'.
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.
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.'
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.'
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 male rescuer 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. 
Masood stood over Pc Palmer, stabbing him by the wall before being distracted by another officer.
This gave Pc Palmer a chance to get away, but he collapsed in the cobbled courtyard after taking a few steps. 
Seconds later, Masood was shot dead by a plainclothes officer.
Frantic scenes of people rushing to offer first aid were captured on a mobile phone.
In audio played at the Old Bailey, there were shouts of: 'Police officer stabbed in the head. Police officer stabbed in the head.'
He was described as having a 'weak pulse' and losing blood while another person said: 'He's been stabbed in the back.'
A man could be heard urging Pc Palmer to fight for his life, shouting: 'Keith, come on son.'
Counsel to the inquest, Jonathan Hough QC, read statements from two members of the public who witnesses the attack.
Carl Knight had been sitting on the top deck of the 159 bus on his way to Whitehall when he heard a 'loud bang' which drew his attention to a small grey SUV that had smashed into the Palace gates.
After the driver briefly leant over to the passenger side, 'either putting something down or picking something up', he leapt out and was confronted by a pedestrian asking: 'What are you doing?'
He then heard Masood tell him to 'f**k off', warning: 'You don't want to mess with me.'
The 'aggressive and dominant' terrorist then 'raised his hands to show he was holding a knife in each hand'.
'As soon as the knives were held up it went from a car accident to an attack,' said Mr Knight.
He said he saw Masood and PC Palmer 'grabbing each other before the fell to the floor' where the former 'seemed to get the better of the officer' before PC Palmer fell to his knees and was stabbed.
'It looked as if the knives were bouncing off the police officer's jacket,' Mr Knight added.
'I believe the police officer was stabbed about five times before he sprinted off.'
John Campbell, who had been riding the 88 bus towards Clapham, described seeing people 'running and scattering'.
He said PC Palmer seemed unaware of the commotion 'until this male went straight up to him and stabbed him three or four times at least to the front of his body using a very large knife'.
After the stabbing, he said: 'I would describe the knifeman as continuing to be animated and frenzied like he was looking for another victim.' 
An ambulance arrived on the scene just before 3pm but efforts to save Pc Palmer's life stopped at 3.15pm.
The 'ferocious' attack on Pc Palmer came after Masood, 52, had mowed down and killed four pedestrians on Westminster Bridge on March 22 last year. 
Family of PC Keith Palmer make 11th hour bid to halt Westminster terror attack inquest amid claims no armed police were nearby when he was murdered 
The extended family of murdered police officer Keith Palmer have made an 11th hour bid to halt the inquest into his death.
The Old Bailey heard they are 'extremely distressed' that nobody from the Metropolitan Police has spoken to them to let them know there was an issue surrounding the absence of armed officers in place to protect their brother.
Pc Palmer, 48, was positioned on the Carriage Gates outside the Palace of Westminster when he was knifed to death by Khalid Masood, 52, on March 22 last year.
Susannah Stevens, representing his sisters, Angela Clark and Michelle Palmer, applied to adjourn the inquest into his death on the fifth day of the hearing on Friday morning before evidence relating to the officer was due to begin.
'Their application for funding so that they could have lawyers at this inquest was refused by legal aid agency on Thursday last week,' she said. 
Pc Palmer's widow Michelle is already represented separately and did not support their application.
The Metropolitan Police, on the other hand, have been represented by a QC and a junior barrister since the beginning of the process, Ms Stevens added.
She said lawyers had been acting pro bono for them, but appealed to the coroner Mark Lucraft QC to help.
'At a time when they should be able to focus on the facts and issues arising from the death of their relative they should not at this time be in a position where they have no clarity as to funding,' Ms Stevens continued.
The lawyer asked the coroner to make 'observations' about the need for the sisters to be represented at the Old Bailey inquest in addition to Pc Palmer's widow, Michelle, who is already represented separately.
Ms Stevens said it was clear by last summer, at the latest, that there was an issue about armed officers 'not being in close proximity to Pc Palmer when he was stabbed to death'.
'For 15 minutes there were no authorised firearms officers anywhere near Carriage Gates,' she said.
'The family are extremely distressed by the fact that nobody from the Metropolitan Police Service spoke to them to let them know there was any issue.'
The lawyer asked for witnesses from New Palace Yard to be put back.
She said: 'The difficulty for the family as such (is) if no further time is provided at all and if evidence is called today that impacts on Pc Palmer, we are going to have to carefully review our professional obligations.
'We are simply not in a position to question those witnesses who were present in New Palace Yard.'
Nicholas Moss, counsel for the Parliamentary Authorities, opposed Ms Stevens' request for an inquest jury to be brought in.
He said: 'Pc Palmer's death resulted from Masood's evil actions, full stop.'
He said any questions of 'missed opportunities or steps that could have been taken' would be properly explored, but not require a jury.
Hugo Keith QC, for the Met, rejected criticism levelled at police over disclosure.
He suggested Ms Stevens' comments were made in order to assist with a further bid for legal aid funding and to 'create headlines'.
Coroner Lucraft rejected her applications, saying the inquest would be 'thorough and detailed'.

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