Susannah and Tom represented the parents and siblings of PC Keith Palmer, the police officer killed in the Westminster terrorist attack on 22 March 2017.
The inquest has been heavily covered in the press, and Susannah’s questions have featured prominently. Both The Telegraph and ITV quoted Susannah verbatim when submitting that the absence of authorised firearms officers (“AFOs”) contributed to PC Palmer’s death.
On behalf of the family, Susannah and Tom pushed for disclosure and the calling of additional witness evidence to try and obtain answers as to how PC Palmer came to be stabbed to death inside the Palace of Westminster, unprotected by any firearms officers.
It was not accepted that the explanation was, as suggested by senior MPS officers, that the two AFOs on duty on that day had failed to follow instructions, rather the failure lay in the security system itself.
Susannah and Tom raised serious issues as to how a security system came to be introduced that had only two AFOs covering all the vulnerable locations within New Palace Yard and why there was no fixed firearms post at Carriage Gates. Further, they challenged the suggestion that the presence of AFOs at the Gates would have made no difference to the death of PC Palmer.
In the event, the Chief Coroner HHJ Mark Lucraft QC observed in his determinations that:
“Due to shortcomings in the security system at New Palace Yard, including the supervision of those engaged in such duties, the armed officers were not aware of a requirement to remain in close proximity to the Gates. Had they been stationed there, it is possible that they may have been able to prevent PC Palmer suffering fatal injuries.”
Susannah and Tom were instructed by Adam Chapman and Sarah Burton of Kingsley Napley.