Police have detained a man outside of the Palace of Westminster after he appeared to have poured a flammable liquid on himself whilst carrying a lighter.
The incident happened at 10:45 on Tuesday morning with police reacting after they saw a man “dousing himself with what appeared to be a flammable liquid”, according to London’s Metropolitan Police Service.
Witness and Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle Huw Merriman said the man pouring a substance he described as smelling like petrol over himself outside of Old Carriage Gates, the main entrance to the Houses of Parliament and the same area where PC Keith Palmer was stabbed to death in an Islamist terror attack in March 2017.
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.
— Huw Merriman (@HuwMerriman) October 1, 2019
“The man, who had a lighter, was sprayed with a fire extinguisher. There was no ignition and the man was detained,” a police statement said, with Scotland Yard later confirming that the man had been “detained under the Mental Health Act”.
“The man was assessed by LAS [London Ambulance Service] and taken to a central London hospital. He has been detained under the Mental Health Act. No reports of any injuries. The area affected has now been reopened,” the statement continued.
The Telegraph reports that an officer described how an armed policeman patrolling the area at the time saw the man had “poured petrol on himself. One of the lads rugby tackled him.”
Another witness, Richard Davey from Enfield in north London, told The Mirror: “The old chap came up, in a red anorak I think, and threw some A4 or A5 sheets in the air. I’ve no idea what they were.
“Then all of a sudden he’s pouring petrol over himself. I don’t know if he drank any, I can’t be sure. And then the police said ‘run’ so we ran.”
The Houses of Parliament have been on high security alert since the 2017 deadly Westminster vehicular and stabbing terror attack perpetrated by Islamist Khalid Masood. While earlier this year, 30-year-old Sudanese refugee Salih Khater was found guilty of attempted murder after hitting pedestrians and cyclists with his car on Parliament Square before driving down the access road to the House of Lords in August 2018.