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London terror: Terrified Northern Ireland worker locked in for five hours

By Leona O'Neill

A woman from Northern Ireland who works in Westminster spoke of her shock and fear from the scene after a terrorist attack just outside her office window.

Londonderry woman Tanya McCamphill and her colleagues were stuck in Parliament Buildings after the attack during a massive security lockdown.

They were instructed to shut themselves into their office and stay away from the windows for their own safety.

Ms McCamphill (28), from the Foyle Springs area of Derry, is a senior advisor for the Scottish Nationalist Party in Westminster.

She and her colleagues were in a meeting on the upper floors of Westminster when the attack happened on the bridge outside.

Speaking from her office during the lockdown, she said: "Our meeting room has a huge window and we heard loads of sirens on the bridge.

"We looked across at the scene and then all our phones started ringing because the chamber was shut down.

"Our MPs were being asked to go to our whips office and we were told to lock ourselves into the room we were in.

"We are on total lockdown. We are not allowed to leave our office and because we are locked away in a part of building, we really don't know what is happening, which is very unnerving."

Ms McCamphill said she could actually see the bridge, where one person was lying injured at the time.

"We are not even sure if that was an attacker or someone who was run over by a car," she said.

"We are just calling around our friends and colleagues who are not here with us in the office to see if they are okay.

"In this office there are around 15 people locked in," she said.

"I think that everyone is in shock, but we are trying to keep calm and make sure that everyone is okay, to make sure our MPs are safe where they are.

"We are talking to other colleagues from other political parties to make sure they are fine, and phoning home to tell them we are fine.

"We have been told to stay back from the windows and stay inside the offices. Some of the building is also being evacuated.

"The helicopters are out hovering in the sky and there is speculation that there was a bomb. It really is a bit unsettling. It is the unknown more than anything.

"We feel a bit powerless about what will happen next."

Tanya later told the Belfast Telegraph that she and her colleagues were escorted from Westminster by police at 8.15pm, five hours after being put on lockdown. Frightened and unsure of the scene that would greet them outside Parliament Buildings, they were led out into a London night alive with the sound of sirens, helicopters and flashing blue lights.

"There were queues of people being evacuated," said Tanya. "Some people who had been in the offices closest to the incident were being questioned by the police.

"We didn't know what we would see when we went out of the building, if there would be bodies on the street.

"To be honest we were all terrified. We had been locked in the room for five hours, not knowing what was happening outside.

"We tried to keep calm on lockdown but it was truly terrifying. Hearing that people had died - the attacker, the policeman and two people who had been hit by a car - is just horrible, really sad.

"We are all heading home now. This part of London is still locked down and there is no public transport so we will walk until we get taxis."

Tanya says that after the trauma of today's attacks, she has concerns about coming to work today.

She said: "Today has made me anxious and really sad. But we are in politics and if we gave up, nothing would ever change.

"Others would win."

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