Former student arrested in arson attack on Royal Holloway campus: What we know so far

He is believed to have started a ‘number of fires’ across the university


A 21-year-old man was arrested in Founder’s last night on suspicion of arson, with intent to endanger life. Police attended the scene following reports of “a number of fires believed to have been started deliberately”.

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Tab reporters were on the scene as it unfolded last night. This is what we know so far:

• At around 8pm, the emergency services were called to attend to a “number of fires believed to have been started deliberately”.

• Residents were evacuated from the building while officers, including dog units and the police helicopter, carried out a search for the suspect.

• The power is believed to have been cut in Founder’s West.

• A 21-year-old man, said by witnesses to be a former student at Royal Holloway, was detained nearby shortly afterwards and has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

• The incident has resulted in significant fire damage to at least one of the rooms within the building, according to a statement by Surrey Police.

Students were informed via Facebook at approximately 8pm last night that the Winter Ball – being held in Founder’s Dining Hall – had been cancelled.

Two fire engines arrived at the Founder’s building, and police were called to assist. Founder’s is a Grade 1 listed building, and is reportedly the most flammable building in Britain.

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Many students were left sitting in the Windsor Building’s lobby, to avoid waiting in the cold while the police conducted their search for the suspect.

Sniffer dogs and a helicopter were used to detain the 21-year-old male, in connection with a “number of fires thought to be started deliberately”, according to Surrey Police.

At various points throughout the night there was speculation on social media that there was a second suspect that the police were searching for, but this has not been confirmed by the police, so it is thought to be a rumour.

Students were informed they would be evacuated by bus to a local hotel

Students were informed they would be evacuated by bus to a local hotel

A supervisor addressed the students who had been evacuated, informing them that buses were arriving to take them to the Beaumont Hotel. Anyone with the need to collect urgent medication was told to inform a member of staff.

Royal Holloway’s twitter account announced after some time that the students and staff would be able to access the Founder’s Lecture Theatre and the offices, but that access would be limited.

The 21-year-old male was arrested around 10pm. The Tab has chosen not to identify him at this stage.

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The police statement in full:

“Officers were called to assist fire crews around 8pm following the discovery of a number of fires within a dormitory building believed to have been started deliberately.

“Residents were evacuated from the building while officers, including dog units and the police helicopter, carried out a search for the suspect. No one is thought to have been injured as a result of the incident.

“A 21-year-old man was detained nearby shortly afterwards and has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life. He is currently in custody. Enquiries, including searches to establish that there are no further fires, remain ongoing.

“The incident has resulted in significant fire damage to at least one of the rooms within the building.”

Anyone who has any more information regarding the information has been encouraged by Surrey Police to contact them on 101, quoting incident P16274692.