A major annual gay pride event attracting 160,000 to Brighton on England’s Sussex coast had to be rerouted yesterday after the discovery of a “suspect package”. The start of the 25th annual Brighton and Hove Pride march was delayed as organisers and police worked to agree a diverted route avoiding the area in which explosives specialists later carried out a controlled explosion.
The Mail on Sunday reports Sussex Police now say the incident is being treated as an ill-intentioned hoax. Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp said:
“We believe the item was placed there deliberately and made to look like a suspicious device to disrupt the parade. We have started a criminal investigation.
“We were concerned enough to call in the bomb disposal unit, who after making a further assessment, carried out a controlled explosion. The area had been cordoned off and there was no risk to the public.”
The incident forced a last-minute route change on organisers of the Gay Pride parade causing a delay of an hour and a half. They had hoped to be able to parade along a new “high-profile” route for 2015, due to begin on the seafront close to the city’s peace statue. Announcing the route earlier this year, the event website said:
“Starting at Hove Lawns, the Pride Community Parade will make its way along King’s Road, passing the peace statue where so many past Pride marches began and taking in the best of the city’s seafront, ensuring an amazing view for both participants and spectators.”
Chief Superintendent Kemp added: “We want to apologise for any disruption this caused and thank the public and those taking part in the parade for their support and patience while we made the area safe and re-routed the parade. Their co-operation made dealing with this difficult incident easier.”
— Brighton Pride (@PrideBrighton) August 1, 2015
The Guardian reports the two-day festival is widely acknowledged as the country’s most popular LGBT Pride event. It is the largest event held in Brighton, and has featured music from acts including Fatboy Slim and the Human League.