A British coroner criticised security at the UK’s parliament at the conclusion of inquests into the terrorist murders of five people during an attack on the heart of government in London last year.
Chief coroner Mark Lucraft said “shortcomings” in the security system at the Houses of Parliament meant an unarmed policeman was isolated and stabbed to death by an extremist.
Khalid Masood, 52, stabbed Keith Palmer to death after mowing down pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge killing four. Masood was shot dead by police after he fatally wounded the officer in March last year.
The inquest heard that two armed officers should have been posted close to the main gates into the parliament precinct. "Had they been stationed there it is possible that they may have been able to prevent PC Palmer suffering fatal injuries," said the coroner.
The dead officer’s wife, Michelle, criticised London’s police force for the security failures and accused senior offices of closing ranks to avoid blame.
"How could Keith have been left alone, unarmed, guarding an open gate at one of the most iconic buildings in the world and one of the country's top terrorist targets?” she said in a statement.
The force said it accepted the findings of the coroner and said that security arrangements had been substantially changed in the wake of the killings.
"For the loss of that possibility to protect him from Khalid Masood, we are deeply sorry," said Neil Basu, a senior counter-terrorism officer.
The coroner’s findings four weeks of hearings that revealed the killer’s association with extremists dating back 14 years but security services concluded he did not pose a major threat.