September 20, 2021

Armed arrest man outside Parliament after he ‘threw petrol on himself’

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Police sprayed a man with a fire extinguisher outside Parliament today after he attempted to set himself alight with petrol.

The man was just yards from the Old Carriage Gates entrance to the building when he reportedly covered himself in flammable liquid this morning.

Police officers guarding the building quickly hosed him down with fire retardant as the man reached for a lighter. 

Witnesses said he was throwing leaflets, reportedly relating to a parking dispute, before he poured the petrol on himself. 

The man was later detained under the Mental Health Act as fire crews hosed down the area to clear any remaining liquid. 

Police sprayed a man with a fire extinguisher after he apparently doused himself in petrol

Armed police shouted at pedestrians to keep back as the man held up a lighter

The man was clutching a lighter but was hosed down before he could ignite the liquid

It is unclear what the man’s motivations were but police said he is being assessed by medics

The incident unfolded next to a pile of Brexit placards but it is unclear whether the man’s actions are linked to any protest

Witness Richard Davey, 67, said: ‘I was standing by the lamppost five yards away from Old Carriage Gates when this chap turned up wearing a red anorak.

‘He threw some leaflets around – I couldn’t make out what was on them – and then started pouring a clear liquid over himself, it looked like lemon and lime to me.

‘Then someone said it was petrol and somebody shouted “run, run, run!”. So I did, and came over to a [traffic] island in the middle of the road and shouted to the police to get over there.

‘They came over and pinned him down, and then someone came out from the compound to spray him down before all the emergency services arrived.’

Another witness, who asked not to be named, added: ‘He got this bottle out of his bag, a two litre bottle, and at first I thought it was water. But then he poured it all over himself – loads of it. And then I got the smell of it – petrol. So I said to the group “Right, run – f*****g run!”

‘We got further down the road and I shouted over two coppers. I said, ‘Officers! Get over here, the bloke’s got petrol.’

‘And fair play to the coppers, they were here quick. And then one of the coppers came out [of Parliament] with a gun and said “Get on the floor! Get on the floor!” to the man.

‘They came out with a fire extinguisher and hosed him down on the street. Then the fire service turned up, stripped him, and hosed him down outside the gates.

‘It was over in a split second. Apparently the leaflets were something to do with a parking ticket… it was nothing to do with Brexit protests.’

The man was restrained by police and has been detained under the Mental Health Act

The man was arrested in the shadow of Parliament and was dealt with by ambulance crews

He was taken away and detained under the Mental Health Act, police later announced

The incident was also witnessed by Huw Merriman MP, who praised the quick response of police. 

Mr Merriman, who represents Bexhill and Battle, tweeted: ‘Man next to me at Parliament’s carriage gates appears to have poured (what smells like) petrol on himself. Incredibly brave response from police, who are now helping him.’ 

A Brexit related placard was visible against the wall next to where the arrest took place, but it is not thought his actions were related to any protest.

A Met Police spokesman said: ‘At 10,44am, officers became aware of a man dousing himself with, what appeared to be, a flammable liquid at Old Carriage Gates, Westminster.

‘The man, who had a lighter, was sprayed with a fire extinguisher. There was no ignition and the man was detained. 

‘The man was assessed by LAS and taken to a central London hospital. He has been detained under the Mental Health Act.

‘There are no reports of any injuries and the area affected has now been reopened.’ 

After the man was detained, police at the scene appeared to be examining documents

The area was made safe after some of the flammable liquid remained on the pavement

Police were seen examining a bag the man had with him which was also doused in liquid

Police said no one was injured in the incident and London Ambulance Service staff are assessing the man.

London Fire Brigade also attended and doused the area to prevent any of the liquid igniting, police said.

An anti-Brexit protester, who was in Parliament Square at the time, posted: ‘Incident at Parliament. Police have closed Carriage Gate and someone has been arrested.

‘Rumor someone’s thrown petrol, can smell it from the other side of the road, one person in red jacket being held by the police!’

MP Huw Merriman said he saw the incident and said the man smelled of petrol

A man was detained next to the gates of Parliament today as witnesses claimed he tried to pour petrol on himself

The man, who appeared to be wearing a red jacket, was handcuffed up against a wall

A number of police officers quickly arrived at the scene and the man is now being assessed




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