Liverpool hospital taxi explosion: was the location and timing significant?

Driver hailed a hero as four arrested under Terrorism Act across city

Liverpool Women’s Hospital
Forensic and police officers at Liverpool Women’s Hospital a day after a taxi exploded at the scene
(Image credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

“Inferno” was the caption on the front page of the Daily Mirror today as it showed a taxi on fire outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday.

Counter-terrorism police and MI5 are investigating the blast that killed a man just “a minute before the UK honoured its war dead”, said the paper.

Four arrests have been made under the Terrorism Act and properties across the city were raided yesterday. This morning, police confirmed that they were dealing with a terrorist incident.

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Patients and staff at the hospital, who were preparing to observe the national two-minute silence, were “rocked at 10.59am by the sound of a large explosion”, said The Telegraph.

The driver, named locally as David Perry, managed to escape before the vehicle burst into flames at a drop-off zone near the entrance and was treated for serious but non-life threatening injuries. He was able to return home from hospital this morning. The passenger, who is yet to be publicly named, was declared dead at the scene.

Perry has been hailed a hero after unconfirmed reports suggested he had locked the man in the car to prevent him from harming anyone else.

“The taxi driver, in his heroic efforts, has managed to divert what could have been an absolutely awful disaster at the hospital,” Joanne Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.

The hospital “is just a mile from Liverpool Cathedral, where military personnel, veterans and civic dignitaries were gathering for a Remembrance Day service”, noted the Telegraph. It was one of the country’s largest services with more than 2,000 people attending.

The Times said security sources confirmed that detectives were examining whether there was any significance to its closeness to the cathedral, and “said the possibility of an Islamist terror attack was among the scenarios being investigated”.

The security insiders also told the paper that detectives were “examining whether there was any significance to the timing of the incident”, so close as it was to the anniversary marking the end of World War One.

In a press conference this morning, the head of Counter Terrorism Policing North West, Russ Jackson, said investigators were aware that the Remembrance events were taking place “just a short distance away” and that the “ignition occurred shortly before 11am”.

He said they “cannot at this time draw any connection with this” but that it was “a line of inquiry we are pursuing”. He also said that the passenger had asked the driver to be taken to the hospital.

After Army ordnance disposal officers examined the scene, the blast is “being treated as the ignition of an explosive device”, which was brought into the cab by the passenger, said Jackson. However, he said the man’s motivation was “yet to be understood”.

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