Australian PM praises emergency services over London Bridge terror attack


Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has praised the emergency services who responded to the London Bridge terror attack, saying "thank you so much for everything you have done".

Joined by his British counterpart Theresa May as part of his UK visit, they spoke to those who dealt with the aftermath and were affected by last month's terrorist outrage, in which three knife-wielding attackers went on an eight-minute murderous rampage.

They were met outside Southwark Cathedral by Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick and Commander Dean Haydon before being introduced to a number of first responders.

Speaking to those from the Met, British Transport Police and London Ambulance Service, Mr Turnbull could be heard asking one female paramedic about her time in London.

After a brief chat, he added: "Thank you so much for everything you have done."

Eight people, including two Australians, were killed and scores of others injured in the atrocity on Saturday June 3 which saw three knifemen mow down pedestrians on London Bridge with a van, before stabbing people in Borough Market with 12-inch knives.

Wearing fake suicide vests, all three attackers, Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, were shot and killed by police in a hail of bullets at the scene.

Mrs May, Mr Turnbull, Ms Dick and Commander Haydon visited the renowned London food market to speak to some of the businesses affected by the attack, where they were swamped by a crowd of tourists eager to get close.

Outside Paul Wheeler Fresh Supplies, the stand by which the attackers were shot, owner Paul Wheeler spoke to both prime ministers about how it has been since the incident and the support they have had.

The 51-year-old told the Press Association: "The Australian PM seems all right, I told him he had brought the Australian weather with him, and I thanked the Commissioner, just to say about the boys who were here on the night and after."

Federico Fugazza of Argentinian food stand Portena told them how his staff barricaded themselves in behind a metal shutter, and watched the attack unfold.

The 41-year-old said: "They were really exposed but somehow they stayed safe, and there was a customer inside - we were lucky.

"The prime ministers were thankful of that, and in a way proud of how most people reacted and how everyone tried to stay safe and together."

Mr Turnbull's first official visit to the UK as prime minister will also include an audience with the Queen, as well as talks at Downing Street with Theresa May and meetings with other ministers.

A Number 10 spokesman said a priority for them would be security and defence co-operation, including on counter-terrorism, and growing the trade and investment relationship.

After Mrs May and her Australian counterpart returned to Downing Street, they spoke about the emotion of the visit.

Mrs May said the visit had been "very moving" as she praised the security services.

"We have seen the fantastic response of our police and our emergency services."

Mr Turnbull said: "It was a very moving visit. I want to say how much we admire the outstanding response of the police, arriving on the scene so quickly, dealing with the terrorists so effectively and decisively.

"They ran towards the danger while others were fleeing the danger."

Mr Turnbull said meeting two of the officers who responded to the incident was very emotional.

"It was very moving to meet them. The three of us did our best not to burst into tears."

The Australian PM insisted that terror would be defeated.

"We say to these killers, to these terrorists that seek to change the way we live, we will not be cowed. We won't change the way we live. We will defy you and defeat you."

Addressing Mrs May in Downing Street, Mr Turnbull said: "I was very pleased to stand with you and your police commissioner Cressida Dick and her team at the spot where your officers killed those terrorists.

"I know as we work so closely together, as close as any two nations could be, we will continue to defeat them."

Mrs May praised Australian nurse Kirsty Boden who died in the attack.

She said: "We should thank her and the others who, as you say, didn't think of themselves but went to help those who they saw in need.

"The resilience of Borough Market is fantastic. We are going to stand up against these terrorists and we are, as you say, going to defeat them. They will not destroy our way of life, and our values will prevail."

Opening a joint press conference at Number 10, Mrs May said a trade deal with Australia was a "priority" for the UK to build on the £14 billion-worth of trade between the two nations after Brexit.

The PM confirmed that International Trade Secretary Liam Fox will visit Australia in the "coming months" as part of ongoing talks on an agreement. 

"We've both made clear our intention to continue to deepen our trade and investment relationship as the UK leaves the EU," she said.

"Our Brexit negotiations have started well, and I have made clear to prime minister Turnbull that an ambitious and comprehensive bilateral trade deal with Australia remains a priority for the UK.

"Australia was the first country with whom the UK established a trade working group following the vote to leave the EU and we're keeping up a regular and productive dialogue on the future of our free trading relationship."

Mr Turnbull joked about his time as a contemporary of Mrs May and her husband Philip May at Oxford University.

"We're not really debating today but the last time we debated was at the Oxford Union - Theresa Brasier and Malcolm Turnbull were both on the notice paper and the president was Philip May," he said.

"So now what we need is president May here to oversee the debate."