Baroness tells court of flour attack alarm

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The Independent Online

The Labour peer Baroness Golding anticipated her House of Commons guests would want a good look around the corridors of power when they visited with her, five months ago. But their prolonged stay in the toilets, together with a distinct lack of interest in action in the chamber, soon had her worrying.

The Labour peer Baroness Golding anticipated her House of Commons guests would want a good look around the corridors of power when they visited with her, five months ago. But their prolonged stay in the toilets, together with a distinct lack of interest in action in the chamber, soon had her worrying.

Her growing alarm about Guy Harrison and Ronald Davis came too late to prevent a protest that ended with condoms filled with purple flour being hurled at the Prime Minister, Bow Street magistrates' court was told yesterday.

The men, both members of the Fathers4Justice group, were said to have unfurled a banner reading "flower power for dads" before the missiles hit Tony Blair, halting Prime Minister's Questions and prompting fears of a biological attack. Mr Davis, who denies disorderly behaviour, is alleged to have blocked the path of a doorkeeper and unfurled the banner. Mr Harrison, who admitted the same offence, was fined £600 on 19 May.

Baroness Golding told the court that Mr Harrison, 36, of Ashurst, Sussex, had won a VIP ticket to the Commons from her at a charity raffle. He invited Mr Davis, 48, of Worthing, West Sussex, to join him. The men were moved from their original positions and finally seated in the back row of the west gallery when the day's debates began.

"Theirs is a cause I support," said Baroness Golding, the former Newcastle-under-Lyme MP, "but I was really devastated that the Houses of Parliament could be treated in such a way by people. I was also concerned about what they had thrown because I could see the mist and the purple and didn't know what it was. I thought it might be poisonous."

Ken Jones, the Commons doorkeeper, told the court he had feared that the incident was a terrorist attack and that the powder was a biological agent. Security staff had been briefed just weeks before about the possibility of terrorists hurling dangerous substances into the chamber from public galleries.

Mr Jones told the court that the public were detained while the substance was checked, but MPs fled, despite rules aimed at averting the spread of a biological agent. The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.