Scottish parliament evacuated after envelopes found to contain white powder

 07 Nov 2017 - 15:56

Scottish parliament evacuated after envelopes found to contain white powder
The Union flag,The Scottish Saltire and The European flag fly at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh Scotland, Britain March 21, 2017. Reuters/Russell Cheyne

By Elisabeth O’Leary / Reuters

EDINBURGH:  The Scottish devolved parliament in Edinburgh was evacuated on Tuesday after a suspicious package was found, police said, while a source working in the building said a Conservative lawmaker had been sent an envelope containing white powder.

“It’s a white powder incident, there were a couple of suspicious packages sent to a Tory (Conservative) MSP,” the source at the parliament told Reuters, using the acronym for member of the Scottish parliament.

A separate source said shortly afterwards that three similar-looking envelopes were being investigated, one of which was believed to contain white powder.

The letters were addressed to three Conservative MSPs, Jamie Halcro Johnston, Liz Smith and Edward Mountain, the source said.

One of the letters was intercepted when opened by a researcher on the first floor of building while the other two letters had similar writing.

Asked how long the incident could last, the first source said “police told us it could be a while”.

The police said they had responded to an incident following the discovery of a suspect package, and the building had been evacuated as a precaution. Inquiries were continuing, they said in a statement.

Known as Holyrood, the parliament building is located at the bottom of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh’s most famous thoroughfare which leads down from its historic castle to Queen Elizabeth’s Edinburgh residence, Holyrood Palace.

The parliament’s chief executive said only the building housing MSPs’ offices had been evacuated while the rest of the parliamentary campus was operating normally.

The vehicle entry system had been closed to enable emergency services access, the chief executive said.

Normal business was expected to go ahead as planned in the afternoon, the parliament said.

(Wwriting by Estelle Shirbon and Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)