Judges and defendants flee in courtroom fire dramas

THE busy Thames Magistrates court building in East London had to be evacuated this morning when the fire alarm went off as trial hearings were about to start. At least 100 people including district judges and defendants poured out onto the street as courtroom proceedings were halted

By Else Kvist at the courthouse

THE busy Thames Magistrates court in East London had to be evacuated twice this morning when the fire alarms went off, disrupting trial hearings.

The first alert came as the public address system warned at 9.50am: “Please leave the building—this is not a drill!”

At least 100 people, including district judges, magistrates, lawyers, defendants, trial witnesses and office staff poured out onto the street. Courtroom proceedings were halted even before they were due to begin.


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Emergency crews from Bow and Bethnal Green fire-stations searched the three-storey building in Bow Road before giving the all clear’ at 10am.

The alarm was set off by someone smoking in the non-smoking building.

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The delayed cases got going after half-an-hour.

But barely 15 minutes into the proceedings, the second alarm sounded at 10.45am and the judges, lawyers, defendants and witnesses once again had to make for the exit. They all returned by 11.10am and cases were resumed.

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