Family of jihad murder victim gets cold snub from Scotland Yard.
“Eighteen months on we were hoping for some closure, but we’re not going to have that. We feel like we come below Khalid Masood. We are not valued, not wanted, we feel like we are on trial. We feel like we are being battered.”
We’ve been made to feel we’re worth less than terrorist, say family of Westminster victim
PC Keith Palmer’s family have accused Scotland Yard of blocking their pursuit of truth at his inquest, claiming that they have been made to feel worth less than the terrorist who murdered him.
Angela Clark and Michelle Palmer, the sisters of the unarmed Met officer who was stabbed to death by Khalid Masood, said that their questions about vulnerabilities in parliamentary security had been ignored and that they felt “battered and undervalued”.
They were told that they were part of the policing family after a pomp and ceremony funeral following the terrorist attack in March last year but claimed that they had since faced hostility from the Met at the inquests.
PC Palmer’s sisters, who were also speaking on behalf of their 71-year-old mother, expressed concern that the Met was “scapegoating” junior officers over apparent security failures during the attack by Masood, who first killed four pedestrians by driving his car into them on Westminster Bridge.
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The sisters said they feared that they would not get to the truth about why their brother, who was repeatedly stabbed by the Islamist terrorist, was unprotected. Mrs Clark, 52, told The Times: “We put our faith in this system, that we would get answers. And we’re now utterly demoralised, our faith is gone.”
Miss Palmer, 46, said: “Keith gave his life and we are left with no answers. Eighteen months on we were hoping for some closure, but we’re not going to have that. We feel like we come below Khalid Masood. We are not valued, not wanted, we feel like we are on trial. We feel like we are being battered.”
The breakdown in the relationship between the Met and some members of the Palmer family is deeply damaging for Britain’s biggest police force, which has publicly commended his actions and gave him the honour of a “full force” funeral last April. Cressida Dick, the Met commissioner, was in her first day on the job when she read a poem at the funeral at Southwark Cathedral.
PC Palmer’s sisters, from southeast London, are trying to establish whether the presence of armed officers would have saved his life. He was stationed at Carriage Gates, the MPs’ entrance to parliament. While official Met documents instructed the two armed duty officers to remain near the gates, they told the inquests that they had been verbally ordered to conduct roving patrols. Firearm officers have been stationed behind the closed gates in a fixed position since the attack.
Mrs Clark said they were worried that the officers would be used as a “scapegoat”. She said: “They were just doing their job, like Keith was. There are certain people at command level who are perhaps finding it easier to blame the people that were on the ground.”
PC Palmer’s sisters wanted to call an independent expert to give evidence on whether an armed officer would have shot Masood dead before he killed their brother, but they could not afford one because they do not have legal aid. They are represented by the firm Kingsley Napley on a pro-bono basis. They complained that the Met’s legal team had called their requests “irrelevant”. Mark Lucraft, the chief coroner, is due to start summing up on Wednesday, which would have been PC Palmer’s 50th birthday.
An inquest source rejected the suggestion that the family’s legal team had encountered hostility and claimed that the chief coroner had “bent over backwards” to get them additional information. Many of their requests had been made months after the parameters for the inquest were established, and were not relevant, the source claimed.
The Met said in legal submissions that it had provided all disclosure requested by the inquest team. “The fact that it has not been possible to respond to many of the requests from PC Palmer’s family’s lawyers is not due, contrary to what is asserted, to a supposed adversarial and unhelpful stance on the part of the [Met], but is because many of the requests were ill-founded and/or were not processed further by the inquests team.”
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