Met Chief Mark Rowley must 'rebuild trust' of Jewish community after latest protest row, Rishi Sunak warns

22 April 2024, 13:03 | Updated: 22 April 2024, 13:20

Met Police Commissioner Speaks At The Institute For Government
Met Police Commissioner Speaks At The Institute For Government. Picture: Getty
Natasha Clark

By Natasha Clark

Rishi Sunak has put the chief of the Met on notice that he must rebuild trust with the Jewish community after the latest row over protests.

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The Prime Minister said Mark Rowley did have his confidence, but stressed it would rely on him restoring relationships with Londoners first.

And he said that what happened last week, where an antisemitism campaigner was threatened with arrest at a protest.

Officers sparked fury after they were filmed describing him as “openly Jewish” and suggested that his presence was “antagonising” demonstrators.

Gideon Falter, the chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), who was wearing a kippah skullcap and carrying a bag with his prayer shawl, was told by a Met Police sergeant his presence at the pro-Palestine rally in London could inflame tensions.

In the exchange, the officer can be heard saying to him: “You are quite openly Jewish. This is a pro-Palestinian march. I am not accusing you of anything but I am worried about the reaction to your presence.”

The force later apologised describing the comments “hugely regrettable”.

Mr Rowley is facing calls to quit - including from the former Home Secretary, Suella Braverman - after a botched apology from the London force.

He will meet hold a series of urgent meetings today to try and smooth over the row.

Mr Sunak was grilled on the ongoing row at a Downing Street press conference this morning.

he said: "What I would say about Mark Rowley and the police, they do have a difficult job, of course I appreciate that.“But what happened was clearly wrong. And it’s right that they’ve apologised for that.

"And yes, I do have confidence in him, but that’s on the basis that he works to rebuild the confidence and trust of not just the Jewish community, but the wider public, particularly people in London but more broadly."

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The Met Chief will also meet London mayor Sadiq Khan to discuss "community relations" following the incident, as well as speaking with organisations including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the London Jewish Forum and the Community Safety Trust.

Speaking to LBC on Saturday night, Mr Falter, who is chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), said Mr Rowley had six months "to get this right" but he "hasn't done that"."Instead we're seeing that what it seems is that the rights of law-abiding Jewish Londoners walking around the streets are being curtailed in favour of lawless mobs who the Met seems to want to appease," he said.

He added the Met has been "gaslighting" the Jewish community for months by saying the marches are "largely safe and peaceful".

Gideon Falter and caller debate The Met's treatment of Gideon near a pro-Palestinian march

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