Westminster terror attack inquests due to conclude

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The inquests into the deaths of the victims of the Westminster Bridge terror attack are due to conclude.

Chief coroner Mark Lucraft QC is due to give his conclusions at the Old Bailey on the deaths of four civilians and police officer Keith Palmer who were murdered by terrorist Khalid Masood.

On Tuesday the court heard closing submissions, with Jonathan Hough QC, for the coroner, saying the inquests should conclude all five victims were unlawfully killed.

He said: “Each was murdered in a terrorist atrocity which was no less brutal for its lack of sophistication.”

The five victims of the Westminster attack
The five victims of the Westminster attack (Metropolitan Police/PA)

He then stormed through gates near the Houses of Parliament and fatally stabbed Pc Palmer with two knives.

In his closing argument, Gareth Patterson QC, for families of victims on the bridge, urged the coroner to make a report on the circumstances of the case to “protect the public”.

On the role of MI5, whose knowledge of Masood has been heavily scrutinised, he said: “We do think there is room for improvement in terms of decision-making.”

He suggested security services should look again at when to investigate suspects and when to stop, and to take account of violent backgrounds.

Mr Patterson also called for the Government to “try again” with tightening rules for hiring cars.

Dominic Adamson, representing Pc Palmer’s widow Michelle, said that there was “a systematic failure” in protecting unarmed officers on guard at the Palace of Westminster.

Emergency services outside the Palace of Westminster
Emergency services outside the Palace of Westminster (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

No firearms officer had been near Carriage Gates, where Pc Palmer was on duty, for nearly an hour before Masood’s attack.

Susannah Stevens, representing the officer’s family, said: “If there had been authorised firearms officers present at that time, in our submission, on the balance of probabilities they would have been able to prevent a loss of an opportunity of saving Pc Palmer’s life.

“Or to put it another way, on the balance of probabilities, their absence contributed to Pc Palmer’s death.”

The court will hear further closing submissions in the morning, before the coroner begins giving his conclusions.

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