Parliamentary leaper to get mental evaluation

A man who tried to leap from the public gallery into the debating chamber at Parliament today has been committed for a psychiatric assessment.

The 54-year-old man, of no fixed abode, had not yet been charged and the matter was being dealt with by the Diplomatic Protection Service (DPS), police said tonight.

The man was restrained by security and members of the public before he got over the balcony railing in the incident this afternoon.

The man had been sitting in the public gallery, which is 5m above the chamber, for some time but soon after Labour leader Phil Goff began to speak he suddenly ran forward shouting and tried to launch himself over the balcony.

A security guard reached him before he could get both legs over. He continued to struggle to get over and at one stage had all but one leg hanging over, with about four people - including at least two members of the public - holding him up by his belt and clothing.

Auckland lawyer Matthew Piper, who helped pull the man to safety, said he was struggling "almost like a fish".

"He was twitching and still trying to call things out. It was kind of babble.

He continued to struggle after he was pulled back over and was making noises about various injustices, no one could really understand him."

Others in the public gallery said the man had shouted words including "Work and Income," "oppression" and "John Key" before he tried to jump.

The security guard who first reached the man later received medical treatment for suspected cracked ribs.

The incident sparked a fiery exchange between Labour and National MPs.

Labour MPs were outraged by Prime Minister John Key's reaction, saying he shouted out "You should be ashamed of yourselves. That's down to you."

Mr Goff said the clear implication from Mr Key was that he thought it was a Labour Party stunt.

Mr Key had used the case of a "sad situation of a guy who has mental health problems and laid the blame for that on the Labour Party as if we had instigated the action. It's a disgrace he could even have made that allegation", Mr Goff said.

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister later said his comments related to Labour's criticism of Mr Key's security.

"The Prime Minister's comments following the incident were a reflection on the Labour Party's continued criticism of his DPS security detail - which included criticism of his being accompanied inside the parliamentary complex. It should be noted a DPS member was involved in restraining the member of the public."

- with APNZ

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a3 at 23 Jul 2014 21:41:19 Processing Time: 191ms