Tate Britain is reportedly reviewing its security after a homeless man who fell asleep in the toilet was left to wander the locked gallery after dark.
Former IT worker Raj Patel was left undiscovered in a cubicle despite a routine sweep of the London building, which houses one of the world’s finest art collections, before its closure on Wednesday evening.
Recounting the incident to the Evening Standard, Mr Patel said: “I’m not a great fan of art but there’s a loo near the door so I went in. I’m homeless and I suppose the day just caught up with me, so I dropped off.”
The 32-year-old said he napped on the toilet and woke a few hours later to find the gallery, which is currently showcasing the late works of JMW Turner along with its permanent collection, deserted and the doors locked.
“I remember hearing someone open the door and shouting ‘security’, but I was half-asleep and they didn’t check the cubicle,” he said. “When I woke up the entire place was in darkness.”
He added: “It was just a bit eerie, being there all alone. I wandered around for 10 minutes looking for a security guard to let me out.
“When I found one, they just let me go – they didn’t even ask for ID or even my name.”
Despite the welcome absence of heavy handed security, Mr Patel said he was surprised that the gallery didn’t check him or his belongings.
“I was shocked because I was ready to explain how I had come to be locked in there,” he said.
“Bearing in mind I had two massive bags with me I was not searched. I could have been anyone.
“If I had a house and someone was inside when they shouldn’t be, I would certainly call the police. It was very strange indeed.”
A Tate spokesperson confirmed a man had locked himself in a toilet cubicle on Wednesday, adding: “He was located in the cloakroom area and escorted from the building at 6.50pm. He did not enter any galleries.”