London attacks: 7 released, 2 remain in custody

An armed policeman stand guards in Westminster, near the scene of the attack on March 22, 2017 in central London.
An armed policeman stand guards in Westminster, near the scene of the attack on March 22, 2017 in central London.PHOTO: EPA

LONDON • Seven of the 11 people arrested since the Westminster attack in London have been released, with no further action against them, police said yesterday.

The Metropolitan Police said two men from Birmingham, aged 58 and 27, are still being held in custody under the Terrorism Act.

Two women have been released on bail until late March, a 32-year-old, who was arrested in Manchester, and a 39-year-old, from east London.

British media said police are examining attacker Khalid Masood's phone data to ascertain if he used the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp moments before driving across Westminster Bridge last Wednesday.

Police said officers would investigate whether Masood "acted totally alone, inspired by terrorist propaganda, or if others have encouraged, supported or directed him".

Meanwhile, the Saudi Arabian government has confirmed that Masood worked in the country as an English teacher in two year-long stints between 2005 and 2009.

Four people died and 50 were injured after Masood drove his car into pedestrians on the bridge last Wednesday, before stabbing to death unarmed police officer Keith Palmer, 48, who was guarding Parliament. Masood, 52, was shot dead by police moments later. Fifteen people remain in hospital.

Yesterday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced that a permanent memorial will be built for Mr Palmer at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

Meanwhile, police will review security at the Carriage Gates, through which the attacker entered.

Yesterday, footage emerged showing a motorcyclist riding in through the open gates, even as Mr Palmer lay on the ground, wounded.

The gates have been flagged as a weak spot in parliamentary security, because they are often open to allow ministerial cars and parliamentary staff to pass through.

According to the BBC, armed police reportedly stood at the gates until two years ago, when a decision was taken to replace them with a mobile patrol.

MP Nigel Evans, the former deputy Speaker of the Commons, told Sky News: "We have unarmed officers at the front... people like to take selfies with them and it's almost a tradition. But there have to be armed guards where there are areas of weakness."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 26, 2017, with the headline '7 released, 2 remain in custody'. Print Edition | Subscribe