NEWS
22/03/2018 11:38 GMT | Updated 22/03/2018 17:08 GMT

Westminster Bridge Attack: MP Tobias Ellwood Describes 'Eerie' Silence And Heartbreak Of Trying Save PC Keith Palmer

'I was distraught.'

The MP who desperately tried to save the life of a police officer stabbed during the Westminster bridge attack has emotionally described how hard it was to explain the incident to his son. 

Speaking on the one year anniversary of the terror attack, which killed five people, Ellwood told of the “eerie” silence after PC Keith Palmer passed away – and how his distraught son had asked him why the attack had happened. 

“I had my son on the foot of the stairs (at home) and he was in tears,” Ellwood told the BBC. “He was just on his and own and I sat next to him and he just asked, ‘why?’.

“He couldn’t understand why I stepped forward, why someone had been killed, why someone was wielding a knife in a place he has visited many times... and all I could offer is that there are some bad people in the world, but there are lot more good people, and it’s the good people that win.”

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MP Tobias Ellwood pictured, middle, trying to save the life of Pc Keith Palmer

Ellwood was pictured with blood smeared across his face and clothes in the aftermath of the attack by Khalid Masood, who used a car and a knife to attack pedestrians on March 22. 

PC Palmer, a former soldier, still had a pulse when Ellwood stepped in to help him and explained to bystanders that he was a trained medic.

“And I then... as with all these situations, your training kicks in and we did our best to stem the flow of bleeding and cut back the flak jackets and so fourth,” he told Sky News. 

“I was distraught then to find that as much as everybody has worked so hard, that we weren’t able to keep him alive,” the MP, whose brother died in the 2002 Bali bombing terror attack, said. 

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Pc Keith Palmer was stabbed to death while trying to stop terrorist Khalid Masood from entering the Palace of Westminster

When medics rushed to the nearby Westminster Bridge, where Masood had started his attack by driving into pedestrians, the usually bustling New Palace Yard became empty apart from a few of Palmer’s “very, very upset” colleagues.”

″(The medics left) ... leaving a few of us with all of the streets isolated in a very eerie silence, having to come to terms with what was a very, very sad day indeed,” Ellwood said. 

Over the weekend Ellwood told how he was heartbroken that he was unable to save Palmer and was still haunted by the death. 

Commemorative events will be held today to remember all 14 people killed in four London terror attacks in 2017. The other three attacks being remembered occurred at London Bridge, the Finsbury Park Mosque and Parsons Green. 

MPs have observed a minute’s silence in the Commons and the message #LondonUnited will be projected in four locations “as an act of solidarity”.

A ceremony was held in Westminster Hall and MPs earlier observed a minute’s silence as Speaker John Bercow asked members in the House of Commons chamber to pause “in respectful memory” of those who died on March 22 last year.

With heads bowed, MPs from different parties stood side-by-side along the green benches to pay their respects ahead of digital, culture, media and sport questions.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, told the gathering: “A year ago, darkness struck across Westminster Bridge and in this palace.”

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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, during a service for the victim's at Parliament

“It spread across the bridge like a snake, driving to left and right, killing and harming.”

Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Speaker’s chaplain, told the service: “A year ago today on this estate and on Westminster Bridge we were visited by what I regard as evil.”

Rev Hudson-Wilkin praised Pc Palmer, saying he “ran towards the danger in order that we might be safe”.

Pc Palmer’s name will be one of 1,400 inscribed on the new UK Police Memorial being built in Staffordshire, commemorating officers who were killed on duty.

The vigil included a two-minute silence for the victims of the attack.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said Londoners stood together “united against terrorism and in hope for the future”.

The Mayor of London’s office has also organised a digital book of condolence that the public can send messages of solidarity to.

The book will become part of a 3D installation in City Hall until 19 June - the anniversary of the Finsbury Park attack.

As well as a minute’s silence in the Commons, a 20 minute service of commemoration will take place at midday. 

Colleagues and family members have paid tribute to the victims of the Westminster attack as visibly-upset members of the public visited the scene of the attack. 

A colleague and close friend of Palmer today told how the officer was “always happy” and dedicated to his job, his daughter and his wife.

PC Shaun Cartwright told BBC Breakfast that Palmer “loved being a police officer” and just wanted to “help people and do his best”.

He described the late officer as a “true and loyal friend, utterly reliable”.

“Most of all I will remember him as a family man who idolised his wife, daughter and his family; they’re the important ones that I think about a year on from the Westminster attack.”

Meanwhile, the sister of Andrea Cristea, a Romanian tourist who died after being thrown into the River Thames by Masood’s car, has told how she doesn’t give the killer a second thought. 

“I’m not interested in it because my sister is dead and no-one and nothing will bring her back,” Magda Toi told BBC London. 

Henry Nicholls / Reuters
Members of the public pay their respects on Westminster Bridge today
Toby Melville / Reuters
Members of the public were visibly upset as they visited the scene of the terror attack