BY JACKIE KEOGH
DAVID Puttnam found himself caught up in the middle of the terrorist attack in London last week while he was attending Westminster.
Five people were killed and at least 40 people were injured near the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday, March 22nd, after a man drove a car across Westminster Bridge before stabbing an unarmed police officer to death.
Puttnam has a house in Skibbereen and directed War of The Buttons, which was filmed and set in Cork. He told The Southern Star he was due to speak on the Digital Economy Bill and had returned to his office in the parliament estate to pick up his speech.
‘When I got back, I was screamed at by a security guard saying, “This is not an exercise. This is real. Get down and stay down. Don’t move from where you are until further notice”,’ Mr Puttnam recalled.
He said he did just that and, like everyone else in the parliamentary estate, went into lockdown mode for about three-and-a-half hours until they were told it was okay – at about 6.15pm.
Lord Puttnam said he was ‘not frightened’ but he did point out that the principal worry was that the car driven by the terrorist had a bomb in it, or that it was a fake attack, and that another attack would come from the other direction.
Lord Puttnam said he watched events unfold on the TV monitor in his office. ‘I could see what was happening outside. They sent out sniffer dogs. It was very surreal to be watching on TV what was happening and not to be able to participate.
‘At no moment was I frightened. But there was no messing about. It was very weird. You were ordered. There was not one wasted word.’ Lord Puttnam said the terrorist attack was ‘nothing new’.
‘It is not whether there will be an attack it is when,’ he said. ‘The truth is, we are lucky. It could have been so much worse. In a weird way, it is a tribute to the British gun control laws because almost anywhere else in the world, this guy would have had a gun.’
Afterwards, Lord Puttnam said a notice at a London Underground station that went viral on social media captured the prevailing mood in the UK. It said: ‘All terrorists are politely reminded that THIS IS LONDON and whatever you do to us, we will drink tea and jolly well carry on. Thank you.’
Meanwhile, Lord Puttnam, who was appointed Ireland’s first digital champion in December 2012, has indicated that he is likely to step down from the role this summer, having asked the Department of Communications, Climate Control and the Environment to agree a mutual departure date.