Man who grabbed at flag on Queen’s coffin detained for treatment

<span>Photograph: WPA/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: WPA/Getty Images

A man who grabbed at the flag draped over the Queen’s coffin, leaving mourners who had queued to file past “clearly anguished”, has been detained in a mental health facility.

Muhammad Khan, 28, from Limehouse in east London, was charged with a public order offence after the incident on 16 September and will be treated at the facility.

The district judge Louisa Cieciora found that Khan had caused distress to members of the public who had queued to pay their respects to the Queen as she was lying in state at Westminster Hall.

Police wrestled Khan to the ground after he left the queue and grasped at the royal standard on the coffin at about 9.45pm. Khan told one officer he “wanted to see if she was really dead”.

The television live feed briefly cut away as he was detained and arrested, Westminster magistrates court heard on Thursday.

The judge said she was satisfied that the distress experienced by the nearby mourners was “as a result of Mr Khan’s actions” and not due to the arrest by the officers.

She said the coffin’s raised platform was a significant distance away from the people filing through Westminster Hall.

In approaching the catafalque, Khan’s actions would have been noticed by members of the public, “most of whom would have been looking at the coffin and who were there to pay their respects”, the judge added.

PC Lynsey McMenemy and PC Jordan Godfrey tackled Khan and all three fell to the ground as mourners “gasped” and were “clearly anguished”, the court heard. Other officers arrived after being alerted by the commotion.

Khan was charged with an offence under section 4A of the Public Order Act, alleging that he acted with intent to cause a person or persons unknown harassment, alarm or distress.

The court was told at a previous hearing that doctors had assessed Khan as not fit to take part in proceedings and said he was suffering from delusions.

The judge concluded: “You will be taken to the Tower Hamlets Centre for Mental Health. How long you stay in hospital will depend on your treatment and will depend on your doctors.”

Rakesh Bhasin, defending, said: “The height of the crown’s case is that there was screaming and gasps. As you have heard, the incident lasted a matter of seconds. The first officer to see Mr Khan saw him and took him to the ground within a matter of seconds.”

PA Media contributed to this report.