Westminster terror attack: PC who ‘paid ultimate price’ honoured at victims’ memorial
Dame Cressida Dick said: “PC Palmer paid the ultimate price defending the UK’s heart of democracy, and alongside him we remember Aysha Frade, Kurt Cochran, Leslie Rhodes and Andreea Cristea.”
A memorial service was held in honour of the victims of the Westminster bridge terror attack, including a police officer who “paid the ultimate price”, five years on from the tragic incident.
On March 22, 2017, Khalid Masood drove a hire car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four people and injuring 50 more.
He then stabbed PC Keith Palmer to death before being shot dead by police.
Commemorations held today (Tuesday, March 22, 2022) marked the five year anniversary of the attack.
Prime minister Boris Johnson also attended the ceremony where he made a speech.
Dame Cressida, who is stepping down from her role leading the force, laid a wreath and gave a reading from the Book of Revelation.
She said: “As we mark the fifth anniversary of the Westminster attack, it is right that we take time to remember all the victims who lost their lives on that dreadful day.
“PC Palmer paid the ultimate price defending the UK’s heart of democracy, and alongside him we remember Aysha Frade, Kurt Cochran, Leslie Rhodes and Andreea Cristea.”
An inquest into PC Palmer’s death in October 2018 heard the attack lasted for just 82 seconds before Masood was shot dead outside the Houses of Parliament by armed police.
In that time, he killed Kurt Cochran, 54, of Utah, USA, Leslie Rhodes, 75, from Clapham, Aysha Frade, 44, from London, Romanian tourist Andreea Cristea, 31, and PC Palmer, 48.
The inquest concluded all five victims were “unlawfully killed” and that PC Palmer’s death could “possibly” have been prevented if armed officers had been nearby.
While an inquiry in 2019 into Masood’s death concluded he was lawfully killed.
“Today, the thoughts of the entire Met Police are with the families and loved ones of those who died, as well as the many survivors of this terrible attack, including members of our own Met Police family,” Dame Cressida added.
“Sadly, the threat from terrorism remains. However, we are inspired by the courage displayed on that day by so many people.
“It is the memory of the victims and the survivors of all the attacks that drives us in policing to continually improve, so that we can do all we possibly can to prevent further attacks from happening again.”
PC Keith Palmer was a husband and father who had joined the force because he wanted to make a difference to people, the Met said.
He was a member of the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection (PaDP) and had been in the Territorial Support Group based in Catford.
Friends and colleagues remember his passion for Charlton Athletic FC, which honoured him after his death by replacing his stadium seat with a white chair bearing his warrant number.
Though unarmed, PC Palmer stopped the knife-wielding terrorist from entering the Palace of Westminster and subsequently received the George Medal for his actions.
In April 2020 it emerged the Met was facing legal action over the officer’s death after his widow Michelle claimed he “was left at a vulnerable location, with no protection, to die”.
She later said she felt “let down” by the Met making the legal letter public.
The prime minister said: “I am here to celebrate the lives of Andreea, Aysha, Kurt and Leslie. They were each taken from us far too soon.
“I am here to celebrate the extraordinary heroism of PC Keith Palmer. A man whose actions that bright spring day showed him to be truly the best among us, and whose courage and sacrifice remain an inspiration to us all.”
He added: “I am here to celebrate the skill and bravery of PC Palmer’s colleagues who risked themselves to save countless lives… the selflessness and compassion of everyone who rushed to the aid of strangers that day… [and] our capital London.”
While mayor Sadiq Khan, said: “The 2017 Westminster terror attack on the streets of our city was not only an attack on London, but an attack on the freedom and values we hold dear in this country.
“Five years on, we stand together to remember Leslie Rhodes, Andreea Cristea, Aysha Frade, Kurt Cochran and courageous police officer PC Keith Palmer, who tragically lost their lives, and my thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of everyone affected.
“Londoners - and people across our country and around the world - will never forget what happened that day, and the courage and bravery of our emergency services and first responders who ran towards danger to protect us.
“We will continue to honour those who lost their lives by focusing on the values of decency, openness and mutual respect that unite us.”