Suspicious Leeds city centre ‘package’ declared safe

A controlled explosion was averted in Leeds city centre following a report of a suspicious package.

Army bomb experts were called to the scene in Harewood Street after the alarm was raised to police at 8.39am today.

Staff were evacuated from surrounding businesses, including at the new Victoria Gate development, and public transport and car journeys were affected due to a police cordon being put in place.

A number of city centre roads were shut, including Eastgate and Vicar Lane southbound, but nearly four hours later West Yorkshire Police said the “package” was found to be safe.

In a statement issued by the force, police said: “West Yorkshire Police would like to thank people in Leeds for their patience following a suspicious package incident in the city centre this morning.

“At 8.39am today Police received a report of a suspicious package in Harewood Street. A cordon was put in place and army experts examined the item and declared it safe. The cordon and road closures have now been lifted. The scene is undergoing forensic examination and enquiries are continuing.”

A witness at the scene had claimed that a man had been seen behaving suspiciously after abandoning the package.

Paul Dunphy, an actor, was evacuated from his flat close to the scene. He posted on Twitter that the ‘device’ had been placed in his building’s back yard, opposite the John Lewis store.

“The package is small, wrapped in tin foil and had a large aerial protruding from it like an old-style cordless phone. Pushed next to gate.” he said.

“John Lewis camera caught male inserting package into space, taking photo before leaving. Apparently now someone has been seen on CCTV, the perimeter has been widened. Cordon getting stronger by the minute.”