As It Happens

Daily Mail reporter watches U.K. Parliament attack unfold from his office window

A Daily Mail reporter and a Conservative MP who were nearby when a deadly attack unfolded outside the U.K. Parliament tell As It Happens what they saw.
People leave after being evacuated from the Houses of Parliament in central London on Wednesday. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

Story transcript

Daily Mail reporter Quentin Letts was working in his London office when he witnessed an attacker stab an officer and then get shot dead by police outside the U.K. Parliament on Wednesday.

Quentin Letts said it was 'bizarre' to watch the attack unfold from his office in London. (@thequentinletts/Twitter)

"I could see all this and it was very bizarre to be watching this in real time and to be separated from it only by a pane of window glass and yet to know what was happening out there was blood and guts," Letts told As It Happens host Carol Off from his office, which as of Wednesday afternoon, was still on police lockdown.

"We were all told to move away from the windows, but we ignored that. We're journalists."

Details are still emerging about the attack, which also included a vehicle ramming into several people on nearby Westminster Bridge. As of 2 p.m. ET, at least four people, including a  police officer and the attacker, were killed and about 20 people injured. Follow CBCNews.ca for updates on this story as it unfolds.

If there are maniacs and they attack us, well, we have to try and continue, while defending ourselves, to lead some sort of life.- Quentin Letts, reporter 

"We first knew that something was awry when we heard a banging, which sounded like a car crash." Letts said. "We looked out the window and we saw members of the public, pedestrians, running in panic and that was an indication that things were not right."

A member of the public is treated by emergency services near Westminster Bridge. (Carl Court/Getty Images/Getty Images)

That's when he spotted a man in dark clothes, whom Letts described as "thick set" and between the ages of 40 and 50, storming toward the gates of Parliament. 

The man started attacking the two police officers posted at the gate with what appeared to be a stick, about two feet long, "like half a broom handle," Letts said.

"One of the yellow-jacketed policemen detached himself and got away from him, but the other, I'm afraid, couldn't get away from him and was attacked while he was doing his job, just trying to say to this man, 'No you can't come in here,' he said. 

Then the attacker tried to enter Parliament, Letts said, but was shot dead by plainclothes officers.

"He fell instantly," Letts said. "I tell you, you can't have people doing this sort of thing. Disgraceful."

An armed officer posted outside Parliament during what police are calling a 'terrorist incident.' (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

MP: 'We heard shouting and then gunshots'

Meanwhile, while Letts witnessed every graphic detail from his office just under Big Ben, Conservative MP David Davies was in the thick of it, but saw nothing.

He was walking outside between parliamentary buildings when shots rang out and he dropped to the ground, he said.

"We heard shouting and then gunshots," Davies told As It Happens. "It was literally happening yards from where I was but I didn't see anything."

Members of the public look on as roads are closed off by police around Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament. (Jadk Taylor/Getty Images)

Security guards quickly escorted Davies and other lawmakers and staffers to a safe location in the Houses of Parliament, where he remained in lockdown Wednesday afternoon. 

Davies said he and the others are remaining calm.

"There's no sense of panic. There's a sense of concern," he said. "It's the people outside, actually, I'm worried about."

London's air ambulance arrives at the U.K. Parliament on Wednesday after a man attacked a police officer and was shot. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

Letts also remained stoic amid the chaos. 

"One can over-hype the sense of panic and the sense of fear. I don't think there's that. I think there's probably a bit of a sense of anger and outrage among the people at what's happened. But you know, if there are maniacs and they attack us, well, we have to try and continue, while defending ourselves, to lead some sort of life," he said.

"We have to let our Parliaments be open. This is the whole point if politics is that people have access to their Parliament. And once you stop that, then you lose something of the very values that these people seem to very much to dislike."

With files from CBC News and Associated Press

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