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Jim Fitzpatrick MP confirms lockdown in Parliament following Westminster ‘terrorist attack’

PUBLISHED: 15:32 22 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:29 23 March 2017

Two people have died and others are seriously injured in a suspected terrorist incident at the Houses of Parliament.

Police outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA WirePolice outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

The Metropolitan Police are treating it as a terrorist incident “until we know otherwise”, Scotland Yard said.

MPs who were debating in the Commons have been in a lock down situation while police make a sweep of Parliament.

Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle suspended the sitting of the House and told MPs: “This House is now suspended but please wait here.”

The main doors into the House of Commons were shut as MPs sat on the benches and checked their phones while others stood in groups and spoke to each other.

MPs in House of Commons, London after a major security alert at the Palace of Westminster after a man apparently carrying a knife charged through the gates into the front yard of the parliamentary compound. Picture: PA WireMPs in House of Commons, London after a major security alert at the Palace of Westminster after a man apparently carrying a knife charged through the gates into the front yard of the parliamentary compound. Picture: PA Wire

Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick was one of those caught up in the lock-down of Parliament after having just voted in a Commons debate on the Pensions Bill.

“I can’t leave the Chamber,” he told the East London Advertiser.

“I can see the public located in the Lobby and my staff are in lockdown in their office. It’s all isolated while police make a sweep of Parliament.

“We were in the middle of going through the voting lobby. I had just cast my vote and was heading out to meet other MPs when the lights started lashing and the alert signal went off.”

Police outside Westminster Abbey, London, following the terror attack. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA WirePolice outside Westminster Abbey, London, following the terror attack. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Door keepers immediately activated the procedure and closed inner and outer doors from the central lobby to the members’ lobby and Commons chamber. These prevent MPs getting out and others getting in.

The procedure came in after the Tony Blair incident a few years ago when he was hit with powder.

Mr Fitzpatrick immediately phoned his constituency office in Poplar to cancel several appointments due later today and told the staff to go home for the day.

But his Parliamentary staff at Westminster weren’t so lucky. They have also ben in lock-down while police were carry out a full sweep of the Palace of Westminster.

Police outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA WirePolice outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

“We have occasional drills, but this was for real,” he added.

They drills are and procedure ware arranged by the Commons Fire Safety Committee, which Mr Fitzpatrick is a member of. He is also a former minister in the Blair government serving in employment, road safety and the sensitive aviation department.

All Commons business has had to be abandoned. The MPs are still waiting for the ‘all clear’ before the Parliament buildings can be reopened.

Labour’s David Winnick raised a point of order to try to seek clarity.

He said: “Something serious has apparently happened. Could we know if we were to have a statement either from the leader of the House or the Home Secretary?”

Mr Hoyle replied: “It’s not the time or appropriate to this moment until I have got further information.

“What I would say is the House is suspended. I want members to stay in here until we know where we are.

“It’s far too serious to get into a debate. We can worry about that later.”

Scotland Yard said in a statement: “Police are asking people to avoid Parliament Square, Whitehall, Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, Victoria Street up to the junction with Broadway and the Victoria Embankment up to Embankment Underground station to allow emergency services to deal with the ongoing incident.”

Officers, including firearms officers, remain on the scene which is being treated as a terrorist incident.

Westminster Underground station has also been closed.

In another incident on Westminster Bridge, a woman has died after a vehicle drove into pedestrians.

Junior doctor Colleen Anderson from St Thomas’ Hospital said she treated a police officer in his 30s with a head injury who had been taken to King’s College Hospital.

She said: “I confirmed one fatality. A woman. She was under the wheel of a bus.

“She died, confirmed her death at the scene.”

Ms Anderson said: “There were people across the bridge. There were some with minor injuries, some catastrophic.

“Some had injuries they could walk away from or who have life-changing injuries.

“There were maybe a dozen (injured).”

A spokesman for the Port of London Authority, which looks after safety on the River Thames, said: “A female member of the public was recovered from the water near Westminster Bridge. She is alive but undergoing urgent medical treatment on a nearby pier. We believe she fell from the bridge.”

He said the river has been closed from Vauxhall to Embankment “as part of the security response”.

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