Car smashes into gates of Downing Street

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The Independent Online

A man was being questioned by police last night after a car crashed into the security gates of Downing Street, injuring a female tourist.

A man was being questioned by police last night after a car crashed into the security gates of Downing Street, injuring a female tourist.

The red Vauxhall Astra collided with the wrought iron gates that protect the Prime Minister's residence at 12.30pm yesterday. Police confirmed that the driver was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and taken to Charing Cross police station in central London for questioning. It is not yet clear whether the driver simply lost control of the vehicle or deliberately tried to smash the gate.

The injured tourist, whose identity has not been confirmed, was taken to hospital with a leg injury. She is believed to have been standing outside the gates with her two children when the car skidded towards her. The woman was hit by the car as she attempted to push her children out of its path.

The security gates are just 50 feet from the door to 10 Downing Street.

"Neither the Prime Minister nor his wife were at Downing Street at the time of the accident," said a Downing Street spokeswoman. "The Prime Minister has been informed and has asked to be apprised of the situation."

The car was taken away by police to a Ministry of Defence car park opposite Downing Street, to be examined by a forensic expert.

The impact damaged the bolt connecting the gates to the ground and snapped one of the support braces. Car skid marks were last night apparent in front of the gates. Police have cordoned off the immediate area and are to investigate the damage on Monday.

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