London terrorist attack

Heroic MP who tried in vain to save stabbed officer had been touched by terrorism before

Tobias Ellwood, who attempted to resuscitate policeman Keith Palmer outside UK parliament amid terror attack, lost a brother in Bali bombings

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 March, 2017, 9:22am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 March, 2017, 10:57am

The MP’s had been told to shelter inside.

Just steps from Britain’s parliament building, a grisly scene was unfolding. An attacker had mowed into a crowd of people on Westminster bridge. Then, knife in hand, he charged the building’s guards. The ensuing scuffle left at least one police officer gravely wounded. Shots had been fired; no one knew whether the danger had subsided.

That didn’t stop British MP Tobias Ellwood.

While his colleagues gathered on the chamber floor, Ellwood headed outside to see whether he could help. Just steps from the exit, he found an unconscious police officer, bleeding from multiple wounds. At that moment, Ellwood’s military training kicked in. According to witnesses, he attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and applied pressure to the wounds to stem the blood flow. He didn’t stop until medical staff and an air ambulance landed in Parliament Square.

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In pictures passed around social media, Ellwood can be seen talking to police officers, hands and face still bloody. He then returned to the Foreign Office without speaking to reporters.

The police officer, Keith Palmer, did not survive. According to the Telegraph, Ellwood is “well but shaken.”

Politicians across the political spectrum took to social media to praise the Conservative MP.

Alan Duncan, a Tory minister who works with Ellwood, was in the House of Commons chamber when the officer’s death was announced. “In the Chamber there was a real sombre mood when they announced the policeman had died,” he told the Telegraph. “And equally there is massive admiration for Tobias Ellwood.”

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Ellwood served as a captain in the Royal Green Jackets from 1991 to 1996. His military efforts took him to Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Kuwait, Germany, Gibraltar and Bosnia. He remains an army reservist. He worked on the London Stock Exchange before joining the government. As a Foreign Office minister, he focuses on the Middle East, Africa and counterterrorism. He was hospitalised a few years ago after he tried to stop a group of youths from playing football on the street. According to the BBC, he suffered a similar fate when he confronted a “gang” of youths urinating on someone’s lawn.

“He has previously said he feels more ordinary people should be prepared to tackle antisocial behaviour,” the BBC reported.

Ellwood has been touched by terror before. The MP lost his brother in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombing. Jon Elwood, a teacher, had traveled to the island for a conference. It took three days for officials to notify Tobias Ellwood and his family; he and his sister travelled to Bali to bring back their brother’s body. “We just wanted to bring my brother’s body back to Britain, as simple as that. But it’s not that simple,” he told the BBC in 2012. “You need death certificates in both languages, embalming certificates, sealing certificates. All these processes require time and people to participate. None of that happened. I had to do many of those things myself to the point where I ended up screwing the lid down on the coffin myself. That can’t be right.”

Ellwood was appalled by the embassy’s “horrific” response to the situation. And he was angry that MI5, the British security service, had not warned British citizens about visiting Bali, even though intelligence reports suggested that terrorists were plotting a nightclub attack.

He worried, too, that the country and the world had still not figured out how to stem the tide of Islamist extremism that killed his brother. “Those terrorists that did the Bali bombing were trained in Afghanistan and that saw the invasion in 2001,” he told the outlet. “But 10 years later it is difficult to see what the mission is. It’s very confusing to see what we are trying to achieve (there) rather than that initial goal of defeating al-Qaeda. And it’s worrying that those objectives are not clear.”