Knifeman arrested on terror charges in Whitehall

Police at the scene where a man has been arrested following an incident in  Whitehall in London. Picture: PA
Police at the scene where a man has been arrested following an incident in Whitehall in London. Picture: PA

Police swooped on a man carrying a bag of knives in Whitehall yesterday and arrested him on suspicion of planning a terror attack.

The suspect, 27, was carrying a rucksack containing at least three knives when he was detained, and it appears he was known to police as Scotland Yard said he was arrested “following a stop and search as part of an ongoing operation”. The bearded man, who was described as “very calm” by a witness, was held yards from the scene of last month’s terror attack by Khalid Masood.

Theresa May was not at Downing Street when the man was arrested. LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Theresa May was not at Downing Street when the man was arrested. LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Parliament staff were told by security sources that police were tipped off by the man’s family according to Sky News, although this was not confirmed.

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The Metropolitan Police said the suspect was held by armed officers from the Specialist Firearms Command.

It went on: “The man, aged in his late twenties, was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism.

“Knives have been recovered from him. He is being detained under the Terrorism Act and is in custody in a south London police station.”

Dressed in dark clothing, the suspect was wrestled to the ground on a traffic island at the Parliament Square end of Whitehall, close to the Foreign Office and the entrance to Downing Street. Handcuffed, with his arms behind his back, one of his hands appeared to be wrapped up in a bandage as four officers stood next to him.

Images from the scene showed three knives on the ground close to a brown rucksack, and an officer in forensic overalls could be seen taking photographs of the knives. Westminster has been on a state of heightened alert since Masood launched his attack on March 22, killing five people, including Pc Keith Palmer.

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Masood drove at pedestrians before stabbing Pc Palmer as he guarded the cobbled forecourt of the Palace of Westminster. He was shot dead by police.

Prime Minister Theresa May was away from Number 10 on a campaign visit at the time of the incident yesterday.

“This is an ongoing police operation and we are monitoring it,” a spokeswoman said.

Recruiters Harry Peasnell, 27, and Andy Burnage, 22, were leaving the adjacent building which houses various government offices after a meeting with officials when they were told over the tannoy the usual entrance on to Whitehall was closed.

Mr Peasnell, who says he regularly has meetings in Westminster, said police were “quick on the scene” and that he was not worried like he was during the terror attack in the area just weeks ago.