Police use CS spray to halt Commons fight

Police used CS spray to break up a scuffle in the Houses of Parliament last night, arresting a man who was a guest at a drinks reception hosted by Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles.

An argument was believed to have broken out at the party and was continued in the corridor behind the Speaker's Chair, yards from the Commons Chamber where MPs were holding a debate on Africa, at 9.15pm.

One man became aggressive when the police intervened and was subdued with CS spray. An officer sustained minor injuries. The arrested man was last night in custody in a central London police station. Two men and a woman were believed to have been involved, all of them attending the reception.

A source said: "They were journalists who were present at the reception, but they have no link to the Conservative Party."

Those involved were believed to have been in a group without Westminster security passes who were being escorted through the palace by Tory party officials, slipping away into the area behind the Speaker's Chair. where the police became involved.

Mr Pickles was holding the event in the shadow Cabinet Room in the Palace of Westminster.