A man has spoken of his shock after he realized a car he used to own had crashed into the gates of Downing Street – and has claimed his former vehicle was ‘cursed’.
A driver remained in custody on Friday after a silver Kia rammed into the gates near Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official residence at around 4.20pm yesterday, sparking a dramatic lockdown.
Jonny McFarlane, of Glasgow, said he thought the car looked familiar when he saw reports of the incident – before his partner pointed out the license plate and he realized it was the same car he used to drive.
‘My job was as a traveling sales trainer so I was all over the country. I bought it in 2015 but for the next two years it was a nightmare – it was like it was cursed, honestly,’ he told The Herald.
‘It was constantly having issues, £500 here to fix, £600 there, £800 somewhere else. I’d only had it three years and yes, I’d done maybe 60,000 miles, but it was just a constant threat to my bank balance.
The police set up a cordon outside Downing Street after a man crashed a car into the security gates
‘I remember going to the local garage and the guy just said, ‘this car is giving you murder. I don’t think it’s going to last an awful lot longer, you should consider trading it in’.’
Mr McFarlane never thought of his car again until seeing the news this morning.
He said he was ‘taken aback’ when he realized it was the car he’d sold five years ago to dealer Arnold Clark in Glasgow.
The vehicle which crashed into Downing Street is believed to have reversed into a Ministry of Defense car park across the road just moments earlier.
It is thought the car traveled down Whitehall from Trafalgar Square before backing into the opening of the nearby Ministry of Defense car park and being pointed in the direction of Downing Street, according to The Telegraph.
The Metropolitan Police this morning said it was unable to confirm that level of detail, adding that there were ‘no further updates at this time’.
It clarified that its own officers do not use the car park in question, as they access the nearby Met Police headquarters via an entrance off the Victoria Embankment.
A handcuffed man was led away from the scene by police officers
This graphic shows how the car traveled across a line of Whitehall traffic and struck the Downing Street gates
It comes after eye witnesses last night told how the car which crashed into the gates outside Downing Street appeared to have been driven from the car park across the road.
Calvin Benson, 52, told MailOnline: ‘It suddenly appeared at the car park gates and drove straight across the road towards Downing Street.
‘It wasn’t traveling very fast and slowed down as it got closer.
‘It was very bizarre. It came from the car park which was used by the MoD… It’s not open to the public.’
The London Underground inspector added: ‘Whether it was someone who was making a protest or whether they had a heart attack or a seizure you can only guess.
‘Suddenly there was a lot of chaos with armed police and vehicles appearing from everywhere. It was very bizarre.’
Video aired on the BBC showed the car driving towards the gates at a relatively slow speed and then braking almost to a halt, before continuing to drive into the gates.
Despite the slow speed crashes, people nearby can still be seen fleeing the area quickly. Police said there were no reports of any injuries and ongoing inquiries.
Witnesses claimed on Thursday evening that the driver had his ‘face to the floor’ as he was being arrested. A photograph appears to show officers leading a handcuffed man away from the scene.
A man is seen in police custody after a car was driven into the gates of Downing Street
A person was arrested after a car crashed into the front gates at Downing Street
Officers appeared to be searching for the silver Kia hatchback that struck the gates at Downing Street yesterday afternoon
An officer is seen examining the contents of the boot of the car
Shortly after the incident, a video posted online showed a convoy of cars leaving the back of No10, after the car crashed into the gates. Officers were seen apparently searching the vehicle as it remained outside.
Rishi Sunak was working from Downing Street yesterday afternoon, sources said. The Prime Minister, who had been due to leave No10 anyway, was whisked away to safety after the crash.
Another eye witness, Simon Parry, 44, said: ‘The car was right next to where we were standing coming from the gates behind Scotland Yard.
‘It went straight across the street and suddenly there was a bang when it hit the gates.
‘There was a group of children, teenagers, who were screaming and running away. they were terrified. They were just walking past when the car came towards them. He wasn’t traveling very fast but they had a lucky escape. It’s a miracle that nobody was hit.
‘The police guarding the gates were there with their machine guns. The police were shouting at him. They pulled him out of the car and then he was lying there on the floor. Then they led him away in handcuffs. He was a middle aged white man.
He added: ‘There were others there with their Taser guns. There were police vehicles arriving from everywhere.
‘Somebody opened the boot of the car. I suppose they were looking for explosives. They had the bomb squad here. It was a dramatic scene.’
The police added that there are no reports of any injuries and that inquiries are ongoing
Police cordoned off a large area of Whitehall after the car rammed the gates of Downing Street
Large sections of Whitehall were closed to the public and vehicles following the incident, with cordons in place blocking access to the street from outside the Ministry of Defense.
Pedestrians were turned away from the main thoroughfare around Downing Street in central London.
City of Westminster Police tweeted: ‘At around 4:20hrs a car collided with the gates of Downing Street on Whitehall.
‘Armed officers arrested a man at the scene on suspicion of criminal damage and dangerous driving.’
It is understood that the counter-terrorism police are not involved in the investigation at this stage.
The head of the UK’s Government has lived on Downing Street since 1735, when it was presented to Sir Robert Walpole by George II.
It was open to the public for many years and despite security arrangements, it remains a public street.
Since the first politician moved in, Downing Street has stood through the Blitz and an IRA mortar attack in February 1991 that saw a van lob projectiles in the buildings while the war cabinet was in session.
The bomb explored in the garden of No10, just meters away from the then Prime Minister John Major. Although no one was killed, the mortar shell left a crater in the No10 gardens and blew out the windows of neighboring houses.
Some staff had to move into the Admiralty Arch while the damage was repaired and security was dramatically tightened in the aftermath of the attack.
The mortar attack came a few years after a letter bomb, addressed to Margaret Thatcher, was opened by her office manager, Peter Taylor. Remarkably, he suffered only minor burns to his hands and face and was discharged from the hospital hours later.
The famous wooden front door, which had been believed to be the original Georgian, was replaced with a bomb-proof metal version with a high-quality gloss paint finish. A spare is kept in storage for when the bomb-proof door needs restoration.
Police investigated after one person was arrested in London after a car crashed into the gates of Downing Street
A police officer stands guard near the scene of the crash outside the Downing Street gates
A crowd is pictured outside Downing Street where one person is arrested after a car crashes into the gates
It was not the first time that the street needed repairs due to the damage caused by bombs.
Wartime bomb damage required significant work during the 1950s, when a committee set up by then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan decided that Number 12 should be completely rebuilt and Numbers 10 and 11 should be strengthened, and their historic features preserved.
The large ornate gates were erected at the entrance to Downing Street in 1989, following persistent threats from the IRA.
Barriers were first installed in Downing Street in 1920 due to the threat from Irish Republicans, but cars still had access to the street until 1973, when a barrier was installed.
In 1982, low barriers were installed in response to threats from the IRA and planning permission for the large gates across the entrance to the street was granted in 1989.