A Kiwi has described frightening scenes after false reports of shots being fired on a tube platform close to one of London's most famous shopping streets.

Former Newstalk ZB reporter Andy Rowe was shopping inside high-end department store Selfridges when panic unfolded after nearby Oxford Circus underground station was evacuated.

Police later said there was no evidence of shots being fired or any casualties, but before the all-clear came, hundreds of people were seen running from the area, and armed police arrived in force.

Police officers and members of the public walk near Oxford Circus subway station in the west of London after it was reopened. Photo / AP
Police officers and members of the public walk near Oxford Circus subway station in the west of London after it was reopened. Photo / AP

Rowe and his mum, Wendy, were shopping for Christmas decorations when the drama began.


Leaving the department store as an evacuation began, he asked a security guard what was going on.

"He just looked at me and he had this frightened look on his face, so my mum and I were like 'let's get out of here'.

"And as soon as we walked out there were police officers with machine guns and like a full armed squad were all outside. We thought 'this is serious', so we started walking."

But with Black Friday making the evening one busiest shopping nights of the year, leaving the area was easier said than done.

"People were everywhere. So think about a crowd when you're leaving Eden Park after an All Blacks test match and you just can't move in any direction ... you just have to go with the crowd.

"That was when there was this bang from up Oxford Circus and I saw people screaming and yelling, and that's when the people around us started yelling and screaming as well, and everyone just stampeded, spilling out down the side streets and running from the noise of what everyone thought was going on."

People run from Oxford St tube station in terror as reports of gunshots are heard

Feeling it was safer to be closed to armed police, he urged others to slow down.

"I started shouting 'it's fine, don't panic, don't panic. there's police here' ... but everyone was just sprinting."

"They're just thinking the worst straightaway."

Because he grew up on a farm he knew immediately the sound that sparked panic was not a gunshot.

"It sounded more like when you slam the door of a car ... it was more people screaming and yelling that freaked me out a little bit."

Rowe also took aim at Olly Murs, also in Selfridges, after the singer tweeted to his almost eight million followers "Fuck everyone get out of @Selfridges now gun shots!! I'm inside" during the incident.

"You go on Twitter [to find out what's happening] and you've got some oxygen thief like Olly Murs tweeting ... it's like 'mate , why are you tweeting that? What are you actually doing?'

"It's just putting the fear of god into people where it's just unnecessary.

Journalist Piers Morgan also criticised Murs over his Twitter comments.

"When you have millions of followers be very careful what you tweet. There were no shots, in fact nothing happened at all. So you stirred extra needless panic by tweeting false information," Morgan tweeted after Murs defended his tweets.

Meanwhile Rowe, after taking his mum home, has now gone out for festive drinks at an igloo bar in Wandsworth Bridge.

He wasn't put off living in London - it felt safer at night than Christchurch.

"Life goes on for people. People don't let something like this get them down for too long."