THE ROYAL Pavilion has been closed as police investigate a rape on a woman.

Police were called after the incident in the Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton 5.45am today.

A woman in her 20s was reportedly seen running from the area in a "distressed state".

Officers set up a cordon around the area today while the investigation was launched.

They were seen guarding entrances to the crime scene, which was marked off with crime scene tape.

A concerned member of the public called the police.

The woman told officers she had been raped by a man shortly before running from the gardens.

She is now receiving specialist support.

A crime scene investigator in a forensic suit was seen entering the gardens to photograph the area and search for clues.

Police have appealed for information. The force said: "If you were around Pavilion Gardens in Brighton around 5.30am Saturday you may have important information that could help our investigation into the rape of a woman there.

The Argus:

"If you have any suspicions at all about what you saw or heard please let us know."

The incident is understood to have happened near the Indian Gate, where the crime scene investigator appeared to be taking pictures.

Visitors have been told there is no through access today.

Meanwhile it is understood that the Pavilion will be closed, but the museum remains open.

The Argus:

In a statement the police said: "We are investigating the rape of a woman in the grounds of Brighton Pavilion.

"The woman, in her early 20s, was seen running from the grounds in a distressed state at 5.45am on Saturday morning (June 8) prompting a call to police from a concerned member of the public.

"She told officers that she had been raped by a man shortly beforehand and is now receiving specialist support. The area has now been cordoned off while forensic investigations take place."

Police have appealed for anyone with information, or anyone who may have witnessed what happened around the Indian Gate to report it on the Sussex Police website or call 101, quoting Operation Cobalt.