…only for officials to discover he’s an AMERICAN
Tim Scunthorpe — Daily Mail Dec 21, 2017
Labour MPs claimed a man watching them debate Russian interference was a Kremlin diplomat today – only for it to turn out he was an American.
Labour’s Ben Bradshaw and Chris Bryant conferred and pointed after apparently seeing him taking pictures and video from the public gallery.
Mr Bryant then alerted the Commons doorkeepers and the man, who was wearing a grey suit and yellow tie, and he was escorted out of the debate.
But in farcical scenes, the anonymous man was let back into the Commons chamber within minutes after claiming he worked for a think tank.
Commons sources told MailOnline the man was, in fact, an American who took no photos or video of the debate.
He insisted to reporters in Parliament that he worked for a think tank in London and could not have taken pictures even if he wanted to.
Taking pictures or video from Parliament’s public galleries is strictly forbidden and until recently phones were entirely banned.
As the bizarre incident unfolded, the MPs could be seen pointing at the mystery man during a debate on Russian interference in UK politics.
However, the man, speaking outside the public gallery, expressed his confusion at the accusations.
Speaking anonymously, he said: ‘I work for a think tank in London, my phone is taped up over the camera so I can’t take pictures.
‘I was just here for the day, I didn’t know what was happening.’
During the debate, Mr Bradshaw could be heard saying: ‘He is from the Russian Embassy. He has been taking pictures.’
After several exchanges with Mr Bradshaw, Mr Bryant approached a doorkeeper to express concern and the man, who was wearing a grey suit and yellow tie, was temporarily removed from the gallery.
However, he returned several minutes later and remained in his seat for the rest of the debate.
A House of Commons spokesman said: ‘A guest in the Public Gallery was using his mobile phone but was not filming.
‘His phone was checked by the Doorkeepers and it was confirmed that there was no video footage’.