What did you see from your office?
I have an office that overlooks New Palace Yard which is the area where the attacker came into the Parliamentary precinct.
I didn’t see the prelude to that which was the terrible carnage on Westminster Bridge. I’m glad I didn’t see that. But I did hear the crash of the car into the side railings and as a result I looked out of my window and I saw members of the public running away in alarm, screaming and shouting and looking over their shoulders in fear at a source of aggression.
Then I saw a loan burly figure of a man aged about 40 come running through the gates. He ran through and came across a couple of policeman. One of them fell over and was attacked. Then the attacker ran slowly toward the House of Commons – a café used by the public and an entrance used by MPs. This all happened in about 10 seconds. Two non-uniform security personnel with handguns shouted, he kept running and they shot him.
What was your initial response?
To keep watching. I wanted to make sure I saw what was going on. I suppose that was the journalist in me. I hope it wasn’t the voyeur.
Conflicted things go through your mind. You don’t feel shocked. I felt outraged this policeman was being attacked. The strange thing is…and here I am a churchgoer who does his best to observe our faith’s teachings…you see a man who does wicked things and see him shot. But I’m afraid I didn’t feel much for that man. I didn’t feel any sympathy for him. If anything I felt a sense of relief and ‘you deserve that’. It’s a strange thing to feel. I feel this is what this should have happened to him.
You’ve had time to observe the shock. Do you feel the same now?
Pretty much. I have more complicated feelings about the policeman I saw being knifed. The grief one feels for his family – that initially doesn’t run through your head because you just feel outraged and angry.
I have conflicted thoughts about the terrorism we’re facing as the West, as the country. Is there a religious aspect to this? These are things too difficult to get one’s head around initially.
The reality is one person can do this. That’s the irresponsibility of evil.
Should Parliament change in the light of this? Should there be adjustment to security? Do you feel safe?
Oh yeah, I feel safe. I’m sitting back in my office as I talk to you. The reason I feel safe is the police and security personnel who yesterday did what they’re meant to do. They did so amazingly, efficiently and bravely.
I want our parliament to be open and as much as it possible to be normal and not to be a fortified place that the people don’t feel an attachment to.
What’s your response as a Christian?
I don’t know. I have slightly tortured feelings about whether or not I should feel an almost triumphmentalism at the defeat of this man. It’s worth pointing out that people who attack our parliament and civilisation will be dealt with. Is it wrong to defend yourself in a strong way? I don’t think it is. I think it’s a perfectly legitimate Christian response. Maybe I will feel differently in a week. One mustn’t be too arrogant about one’s assumptions.
What are the priorities to pray for?
Obviously the family of those who’ve died. But my response in times of trouble – and as someone who reveres the Book of Common Prayer - is to turn to the General Thanksgiving - which is an amazing prayer which covers all sorts of conditions of men. It talks about how “we give thanks for our creation, preservation and all the blessings of this life”. We have life and some people as a result of yesterday don’t have life anymore, but maybe they have another life.
For the latest news about the Westminster attack, visit premier.org.uk/news