Pendle MP "seconds away" from terror attack

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson has spoken of hearing shots ring out during the deadly Westminster terror attack, which left four people dead.

The Conservative MP said he was “seconds away” at Parliament on Wednesday afternoon when a lone attacker drove headlong into members of the public on Westminster Bridge before fatally stabbing a police officer.

In his Leader Times column, Mr Stephenson said: “We’ve feared for years that it would be only a matter of time before we saw a terror attack on Parliament.

“Often, as I give Pendle residents who visit Parliament the tour, I explain the difficult balancing act between the building being accessible, being a working parliament and also being a prime terrorist target.

“For me and the thousands of others who work in Parliament and the thousands outside, Wednesday began like any other day.

“I spoke in the House of Commons Chamber before PMQs, I then returned to my office to do e-mails. I’d just returned to the Chamber to vote, walking just yards from where the police officer was killed, when I heard the shots ring out. Like most MPs I missed this incident by seconds.”

Mr Stephenson tweeted from the House of Commons chamber, which was in lockdown for hours following the incident, to say he had heard gunshots but that he and his staff were safe.

He also tweeted his thanks to the emergency services for their “very quick reaction” on the day.

Mr Stephenson added: “My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected – to the victims themselves and their family and friends.

“At the time of writing only the police officer, Keith Palmer, has been named. For those of us who were in Parliament at the time of this attack these events provide a reminder of the exceptional bravery of our police and all our emergency services who risk their lives to keep us safe.

“Once again on Thursday these exceptional men and women ran towards the danger even as they encouraged others to move away.

“As the Prime Minister said, the streets of Westminster, home to the world’s oldest Parliament, are ingrained with a spirit of freedom that echoes in some of the furthest corners of the globe.

“And the values our Parliament represents - democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law – command the admiration and respect of free people everywhere.

“That is why it is a target for those who reject those values, but any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure.”