MP heard gunshots as suspected terrorist attacks parliament

A Blackpool MP has described how he heard gunshots as a suspected terrorist launched an attack on parliament

Wednesday, 22nd March 2017, 3:46 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:22 am
Gordon Marsden

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden was on his way to vote in the main chamber when he heard what turned out to be gun shots.

He said: “When the incident occurred I was on my way over from Portcullis House to the main chamber.

“I heard about four or five noises which I assume were the shots. We all turned on our heels and walked fairly smartly back into Portcullis House and I went back to my office.

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“Within about two minutes we were taken downstairs, I think they wanted people away from windows etc, and to another building in Whitehall.

“We are just sitting and waiting here and trying to be as normal as possible.

“I was in London in the 1980s and only about 100 yards from an IRA bomb, and my partner was in a flat around the corner from the 7/7 attacks in London.

“So it is concerning and frightening and we have to keep as calm as possible.”

Paul Maynard, Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys said he had been in a meeting in the House of Lords at the time of the incident.

He said: “I’m safe and the building is in lockdown.

“I didn’t hear anything but we were informed of an incident by the head of department.

“I don’t know anything more. We are just waiting where we are and watching developments.”

Cat Smith, the Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, confirmed she was in the Parliament buildings at the time of the incident.

Ms Smith said she was unable to go into detail about what was happening.

But she said: “ I am safe, but I am still in the building and can’t say any more at the moment.”

A spokesman for Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: Mark Menzies was unavailable for comment immediately after the indent but confirrmed to be safe by a spokesman for his office.

She said: “He was on his way to the Chamber when he was told Parliament was going into lockdown.”A policeman wasstabbed and his apparent attacker shot by officers in a major security incident at the Houses of Parliament.

Around three shots rang out outside the Palace of Westminster after a man ran through the gates into the front yard of the parliamentary compound apparently waving a knife.

Two people were seen being treated on the ground in New Palace Yard amid shouts and screams.

An air ambulance landed in Parliament Square and a regular ambulance came in through the front gates as medics rushed to help the injured people.

Armed police cleared the area around the incident and Parliament Square was closed to traffic.

A Downing Street source confirmed that Prime Minister Theresa May was “OK”.

Mrs May was seen being ushered into a silver Jaguar car as what sounded like gunfire rang out at Parliament during the incident at around 2.45pm.

As the sitting in the House of Commons was suspended, Commons Leader David Lidington told MPs: “What I am able to say to the House is there has been a serious incident within the estate.

“It seems that a police officer has been stabbed, that the alleged assailant was shot by armed police.

“An air ambulance is currently attending the scene to remove the casualties.

“There are also reports of further violent incidents in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster but I hope colleagues on all sides will appreciate that it’d be wrong of me to go into further details until we have confirmation from the police and from the House security authorities about what is going on.”

Witnesses described seeing a middle-aged man carrying a knife and running.

Jayne Wilkinson said: “We were taking photos of Big Ben and we saw all the people running towards us, and then there was an Asian guy in about his 40s carrying a knife about seven or eight inches long.

“And then there were three shots fired, and then we crossed the road and looked over. The man was on the floor with blood.

“He had a lightweight jacket on, dark trousers and a shirt.

“He was running through those gates, towards Parliament, and the police were chasing him.”

Her partner David Turner added: “There was a stampede of people running out.

“You saw the people and you thought ‘what the hell is going on’.”

After the incident, Radoslaw Sikorski posted a video to Twitter purporting to show people lying injured in the road on Westminster Bridge.

Mr Sikorski, a senior fellow at Harvard’s Centre for European Studies, wrote: “A car on Westminster Bridge has just mowed down at least 5 people.”

Press Association Political Editor Andrew Woodcock witnessed the scenes unfolding from his office window overlooking New Palace Yard.

“I heard shouts and screams from outside and looked out, and there was a group of maybe 40 or 50 people running round the corner from Bridge Street into Parliament Square,” said Mr Woodcock.

“They appeared to be running away from something. As the group arrived at the Carriage Gates, where policemen are posted at the security entrance, a man suddenly ran out of the crowd and into the yard. He seemed to be holding up a long kitchen knife.

“I heard what sounded like shots - I think about three of them - and then the next thing I knew there were two people lying on the ground and others running to help them. Armed police were quickly on the scene and I heard them shouting to people to get out of the Yard.”

A witness, who did not want to be named, saw Mrs May and her undercover police detail near the area of Parliament where ministerial cars are parked.

He said there were undercover officers in a 4x4 vehicle in the car park.

“We just heard gunshots inside Parliament,” he said.