Drone flown over Houses of Parliament for building survey sparks scare

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A drone flown over the Houses of Parliament sparked security fears after estate staff failed to tell MPs it was carrying out a building survey.

Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski was working in his office when he heard the whirring noise of a drone and saw it flying close to office windows at Westminster’s Portcullis House.

Today he is urging the office of Parliament’s head of security, the Sergeant-at-Arms, to tell staff when and why the machines are being used to avoid another scare.

The Shrewsbury & Atcham MP said: “It sounded like a plague of locusts and then I saw this huge thing and it got in below the roof and was flying around. It looked like it was looking into all the offices.”

“I think when sensitivities are higher than normal, the Sergeant-at-Arms needs to do a better job in briefing people who are working here.”

A close-up of the small drone which caused the alert

The drone was seen flying above Portcullis House, which sits on the corner of Victoria Embankment and Bridge Street, before it was lowered into an internal courtyard for around two minutes. Hundreds of MPs offices are located in the building.

It was then lowered again over a large glass roof, beneath which cafes and restaurants used Parliamentary staff every day are located.

The MP, whose office is on the fourth floor, said: “In these times of heightened tensions when we have just read in the paper the importance of security at the Palace of Westminster and how they found lots of gaps in it, I think it’s very important to have some form of communication for staff.

An investigation is underway after the drone was spotted over the government buildings

“There were a lot of people peering out their windows because they were worried about what it was.”

A spokesperson for Parliament’s Strategic Estates Programmes said formal notice was not given for use of a drone around Parliament as both Houses are currently in recess.

A Parliamentary spokesperson said: “A drone was used on the Parliamentary estate for routine surveying work.”

It comes after a night-time terror attack simulation revealed extensive security weaknesses at the Palace of Westminster.

The simulated attack was conducted earlier this year while Parliament was in recess, with police officers posing as terrorists using a boat to gain access to the building from the Thames.

It was reported that the secret test showed more than 100 MPs could have been “massacred” if the House had been sitting.

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