A man has been detained by police after dousing himself in petrol outside the Houses of Parliament.
The man, who was also carrying a lighter, was rugby tackled to the ground by armed police who were patrolling nearby.
Witnesses described seeing the man close to Parliament’s Carriage Gates cover himself with a flammable liquid that smelt strongly like petrol.
Huw Merriman, the Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle, who witnessed the incident, tweeted his praise for the police who he said had responded bravely and quickly.
He wrote: “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.”
London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service raced to the scene and the man was sprayed down with a fire extinguisher.
He was detained under the Mental Health Act and it is understood the protest was not politically motivated, with one officer at the scene claiming he had been complaining about a parking ticket.
Describing the police response, an officer at the scene said: “He poured petrol on himself. One of the lads rugby tackled him.”
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “At 10:44hrs on Tuesday, 1 October 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.
London Fire Brigade (LFB) and London Ambulance Service (LAS) have attended the scene. LFB made the scene safe by dispersing the suspected flammable liquid.
“The man was assessed by LAS 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.”