MP Tobias Ellwood has insisted he is not the hero after attemping to save the life of PC Keith Palme
Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood was praised by Prime Minister Theresa May after rushing to the policeman’s aid within seconds of him being stabbed by terrorist Khalid Masood.
There have been calls to award him a medal or even a knighthood for his efforts, which left him covered in blood as he massaged the dying man’s heart.
Yet he played down his role, saying he was “overwhelmed” by messages of support he had received and adding that he would be writing to the PC’s family.
Mr Ellwood said he didn’t want to talk in detail about the attack, explaining: “The story is not about me. He was the hero, not me. I don’t deserve the praise because I couldn’t save him.”
Downing Street last night released a statement on behalf of the former Army captain, who served in Bosnia, in which he said he was “heartbroken” not to have done more for PC Palmer “who gave his life in holding the line against terrorism and defending democracy”.
Mr Ellwood added: “I played only a small part that day, doing what I was taught to do. It is right that we concentrate our thoughts on the victims as we stand side by side to protect all that we hold dear, including our precious values and way of life which will always prevail.”
He said he was “honoured to have been invited to join the Privy Council” which was announced by Number 10 on Friday.
Tobias feels very uncomfortable being labelled a hero
Friend of Tobias Ellwood
Describing himself as “deeply humbled and overwhelmed” by the support he has received, Mr Ellwood added: “It is right that despite the terrible events on Wednesday, parliamentary business continued the next day as usual, the democratic machine was not interrupted and our way of life did not stop.”
He said he would be writing to PC Palmer’s family to offer his sincere condolences.
The Sunday Express has learned that the former Royal Green Jacket and Army reservist, who lost his brother Jonathan in the 2002 Bali bombings, performed open heart massage on the stricken officer, a married father-of-one.
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
London mourns terror attack at vigil Fri, March 24, 2017
The world grieves after an attacker killed three people and injured about 40 near parliament in London.
PA 1 of 9
Floral tributes are left after the vigil in Trafalgar Square, London to remember those who lost their lives in the Westminster terrorist attack
A source close to the MP for Bournemouth East, who was photographed with blood on his face as he crouched over the body of the dying police officer, said: “Tobias had his hands inside the man, massaging his heart. That was why he was covered in so much blood. It was an utterly gruesome and harrowing scene.”
When the 50-year-old father-of-two arrived at Parliament the next day, he still had dried blood on his spectacles.
Colleagues say he returned to his office after the failed resuscitation attempt and did not leave for several hours as he struggled to come to terms with the horrors he witnessed.
As a reservist with the 77th Brigade, Mr Ellwood is obliged to complete Military Annual Training Tests which include fitness, weapon handling and first aid, including CPR.
Friends say he has been beating himself up for not saving PC Palmer’s life.
One said: “Tobias feels very uncomfortable being labelled a hero and has been telling everyone, ‘I’m not the hero, PC Keith Palmer was’. He has been besieged with media requests from around the world but he thinks it would be disrespectful to PC Palmer’s family to start giving interviews, which is why Downing Street released the statement.
“He doesn’t want it to be about him, he wants the focus to be on the victims, and those still fighting for their lives in hospital. He is also interested in the bigger picture. As a minister specialising in counter-terrorism, he is keen to stay focused on the wider implications of what happened.”
On Friday Mr Ellwood was on duty in charge of the Foreign Office in the absence of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who was in the US.
Theresa May praised the MP after he rushed to his aid
He finally left the Houses of Parliament on Friday afternoon to spend the weekend with his family.
On Thursday his lawyer wife Hannah spoke of her admiration for her husband’s courage, saying: “I’m very proud of him.”
Speaking immediately after the incident, which left four dead and dozens more injured, some critically, Mr Ellwood said he had tried to save PC Palmer but he had been stabbed “too many times”.
He said: “I was on the scene and as soon as I realised what was going on I headed towards it. I tried to stem the flow of blood and give mouth-to-mouth while waiting for the medics to arrive but I think he had lost too much blood.
“He had multiple wounds, under the arm and in the back.”
After paramedics took over he stayed to help and knelt by PC Palmer’s side.
Last night fellow Tory MP James Cleverly, a close friend of PC Palmer, said Mr Ellwood should be decorated for his bravery.
The MP for Braintree, who knew the officer for 25 years having served with him in the Royal Artillery, said: “Tobias is an incredibly well liked MP. He doesn’t brag about his military service but his willingness to put his own life at risk was clear. When he was trying to save Keith’s life he had no idea there was only one attacker. He put his own safety to one side.
“It doesn’t come as a great surprise to me that he is being very modest about the role he played. Ultimately the measure of what he did does not come down to the success or otherwise of saving a life, it was the fact that when everyone else was running away from danger he ran towards it and tried to save Keith’s life so Tobias really should not feel that Keith’s death is a load on his shoulders.
Police officer greeted Mr Ellwood as he arrives at Parliament following the attack
“I know it is probably the last thing he would want or seek but what Tobias did deserves recognition.”
Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for Leicester East, called for Mr Ellwood to be given a knighthood.
“I think he deserves more than a bravery award,” he said.
MPs have encouraged Mr Ellwood to seek counselling.
One said: “I witnessed open heart massage being performed on a road accident victim. It stays with you.”