MORE than 1,000 people had to be evacuated from a hotel when a fire alarm was set off at a student winter ball.

University revellers and sleepy guests were forced out on to the street after midnight when the Brighton Hilton Metropole’s fire alarm was smashed – it is believed by a party-goer.

Organiser Brighton Rox, which has run the Brighton and Sussex Winter Ball celebrations for six years, said: “There’s never been any trouble before.”

About 1,600 students were celebrating at the seafront venue when the alarm was smashed at about 12.20am on Monday.

They were evacuated from the building along with disorientated guests who were asleep in the hotel’s bedrooms.

Tom Rox, from Brighton Rox, said: “We still don’t know who set off the fire alarm, but the impression I got from security at the time was that it was being treated as a student.

“We have run the winter ball for six years and there’s never been trouble – obviously there is the odd drunk but it has always been incredible and it is sold out every year. We enjoy working with the Hilton and things like this affect our future relationship with them.

“It is a shame the actions of one individual can affect the celebrations.”

There were concerns that organisers could have been lumbered with a £1,000 bill following the false alarm.

But a spokesman for the hotel said it had no plans to issue a fine following the incident.

Party-goers had been enjoying complimentary festive food, fairground stalls and an “Instagram photo wall” before the incident.

Mr Rox was keen to respond to rumours circulating online which claimed the alarm was set off to put an end to the event, which was due to finish at 1am.

The rumour was started by a person who claimed to work at the winter ball.

Mr Rox responded: “The claim that it was us setting off the alarm to get people out the venue is totally ridiculous.

“We have responded online to that as we found it very important that people see the severity of the situation.

“We’re delighted with how it went apart from the last half an hour.

“It’s just a shame about the fire alarm.”

Enquiries continue to find the perpetrator and anyone with information is asked to come forward.