North-East politicians have relived their experiences of yesterday’s attack in London, with one describing a scene of carnage.
The attacker – who has not yet been named – drove a car along a pavement on Westminster Bridge knocking down pedestrians, creating panic and leaving dozens injured.
He then ran towards Parliament where he stabbed PC Keith Palmer who was unarmed. Armed police then shot dead the attacker in the grounds.
The incident has left four people dead – PC Palmer, Aysha Frade who worked at a London college, a man in his 50s and the attacker.
Parliament was quickly placed on lockdown in accordance with protocol for what authorities call a marauding terrorist attack.
Among those present were a number of North East politicians.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick, was in a room overlooking the courtyard when the drama unfolded.
She said: “I heard this strange noise. I thought it was scaffolding coming down, but it must have been the car crashing into the railings. Then I heard all of this shouting and a very clear command that said ‘get out of the way, nobody is going anywhere’. There were some sudden shots, about three or four minutes after that strange noise, and everything stopped.
“I went back to the lady members’ room. I looked out the window and there was this scene of carnage. The response from the emergency services was extraordinary.”
“The effort from the security team was phenomenal. They very methodically cleared the building.”
She said that people were moved to Westminster Abbey ‘which was a place of sanctuary’ and they weren’t allowed out until about 9pm.
Anne-Marie paid tribute to the victims, including PC Palmer.
She said: “He put himself in harm’s way and stopped a situation which could have been much, much worse. It is extraordinary that he gave his life for all of us.” Following the attack, Anne-Marie issued a defiant message to terrorists.
She said: “We carry on as normal. Anyone who thinks they can bring down democracy will fail.”
North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon paid an emotional tribute to the security officers on duty and those who lost their lives.
The Labour MP had been at the Houses of Parliament to vote on a debate when the incident happened, with MPs being locked in the lobby for nearly five hours.
She said they were able to contact family, friends and staff, and to get information from phone calls, text messages and via their phones, before a TV was set up so they could watch the news.
Mrs Glindon said: “We were so fortunate. A couple of colleagues had been coming in and saw the man running towards the main building and heard the four gunshots.
“If that policeman hadn’t have stopped him, it could have been a lot worse, the attacker could have killed more people.
“As we were let out, we thanked all the doormen and security staff for keeping us safe. Everyone was so well looked after.”
She added MPs were determined to carry on with business today while remembering those injured and killed.
“As we came into Westminster this morning it felt quite emotional,” said Mrs Glindon. “We offered our condolences to the police officers on duty for the loss of their colleague.
“I was on the terrace when the minute’s silence took place. All the kitchen staff, doorstaff, officers and some MPs were standing there together.
“We were all just looking towards Westminster Bridge throughout the prayers and silence. It was very poignant and emotional. It was a privilege to be there.
“There is a feeling of very deep sadness.
“We were all determined to be here. London will carry on while remembering those killed and hurt. It won’t frighten us off. We want to honour those people affected yesterday.”
Hexham MP Guy Opperman has reacted to the attacks via a series of tweets and paid tribute to all of the victims.
One message read: ‘Devastated for all victims but particularly family of PC Keith Palmer. He died protecting all of us at Westminster. RIP’. Another stated: ‘Cannot thank the emergency, security + parly staff enough. All were incredible #democracygoeson’
His team also helped BBC Radio 4 presenter Carolyn Quinn. She tweeted: ‘My big thanks to Jon, Charlie and Martin staff of @GuyOpperman who let me work & do ints in their office during the Westminster lockdown.’
Mr Opperman replied: ‘My amazing staff helped @BBCRadio4 + keep @carolynquinncq broadcasting from room 101 in @HouseofCommons - a top team’.
North Tyneside MP Alan Campbell was full of praise for the heroism of the police officers and emergency services following yesterday’s attack.
The Labour MP, who sits on the House Security Committee, was at Parliament for the debate and vote on the Pensions Bill when the attack happened in the New Palace Yard.
Mr Campbell said: “We knew a police officer had been seriously injured and someone killed on Westminster Bridge but then the news came through that Pc Palmer had died and it added a sombre mood in the chamber.
“There was a question whether Parliament should sit and I firmly said we should. As the Prime Minister said this morning, the day will go on as normal.”
He added: “The important thing to remember is this person did not get into the House of Commons. He was stopped by armed police officers, unfortunately after a police officer had lost his life.
“He did not get in to do what he wanted to do which was attack the heart of Parliament and our democracy.
“This is a terrible, terrible incident but it was a failed attack on Parliament which is the iconic target for terrorism and one of the most targeted buildings in the world.
“The attacker didn’t get in because of the bravery of the police officers and the emergency services. They were the ones that ran towards him to stop him while the rest of us were relatively safe.
“That is where the heroism was.”
Mr Campbell added: “The mood now is a degree of shock among MPs and sadness, not just for the death of PC Palmer and the innocent people but for those in hospital.
“There is a determination that we’re not going to allow this attacker or any one else to disrupt our democratic proceedings.
“The best thing for people in London and around the UK is to go about their business as normal, to show we will not be cowed by cowardly terrorists.”
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery said: “What happened yesterday in Westminster has inflicted damage on every citizen of this country.
“The families of the brave men and women, both from the emergency services and Parliamentary security services should be immensely proud for the actions of their loved ones.
“Likewise, the bravery displayed by members of the public, tourists and medical staff running from the nearby hospital to lend assistance should be commended.
“The courage that was shown in the moments that followed the attacked displayed some of the best qualities of human nature.
“Our thoughts should not focus on the hate and the malice of the attacker, but instead with the tragic loss of a police officer, who died bravely defending Parliamentary democracy. We can never allow these people who seek to take our freedoms away to succeed.”