Police report security 'incident' at British Parliament

Police briefly locked down Britain's Houses of Parliament on Wednesday after a powdery substance was sprayed in the main lobby.

A police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a man was detained after spraying a substance in the central lobby of the Palace of Westminster, which houses the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Commons officials and witnesses said the man claimed the substance was anthrax.

Doors of the vast neo-Gothic building were locked, with lawmakers and staff stuck inside as officers wearing protective overalls, gas masks and gloves were seen entering.

Lawmakers in the Commons and the Lords continued their debates during the alert, officials said.

The alert was lifted after about 15 minutes.

Police said tests were being conducted on the substance.

Security at Parliament has been stepped up after a series of breaches, including a 2004 incident in which fathers' rights protesters hurled purple powder at Prime Minister Tony Blair from the Commons public gallery. A few months later, a group of fox-hunting supporters ran onto the Commons floor as lawmakers were debating, reports AP.


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