Met chief to meet Jewish community leaders after force slammed over handling of pro-Palestinian protests

22 April 2024, 08:00 | Updated: 22 April 2024, 09:25

Downing Street has failed to back the boss of the Metropolitan Po
Downing Street has failed to back the boss of the Metropolitan Police. Picture: Getty Images

By Danielle De Wolfe

Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley will hold a series of urgent meetings today amid fury over the force's handling of pro-Palestinian protests.

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Sir Mark will meet the home secretary and policing minister following the claims and will also meet key Jewish leaders on Monday following calls for him to quit over his handling of the protests.

It comes as the Prime Minister slammed the Metropolitan Police's threat to arrest Gideon Falter at a pro-Palestine rally, with a member of the force heard saying he was "antagonising demonstrators" by being "openly Jewish". Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman has called on him to resign or be sacked.

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.

The PM has said he is “appalled” at the incident which was filmed and shared online.

Andrew Mitchell MP responds to the Gideon Falter story

Gideon Falter, 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”.

Shocking moment Met police officer threatens to arrest man for being 'quite openly Jewish' at pro-Palestine march

Sir Mark's future is under question after Downing Street indicated his job will depend on his explanation of the incident in talks with Home Secretary, James Cleverly.

Sunak reportedly expects the Met boss to “account for” what happened, a government source said.

Bridget Phillipson, Shadow Education Secretary told LBC News: "I believe he [Sir Mark Rowley] needs to rebuild trust with the Jewish community after what we saw in recent days, and that that is incredibly important.

"My understanding is that he will be meeting with community leaders today to do precisely that.

"I recognise that policing protests can be difficult, that events can happen very quickly, that there are tensions and you’re seeking to keep the order where there are thousands of people on our streets.

"It is a fundamental right in our country, that people have the right to protest, but it can't ever cross a line and there can be absolutely no place for anti-Semitism in our society."

Read more: Met Commissioner must resign over Palestine protest policing, antisemitism campaigners say

The former Home Secretary Suella Braverman has led calls for Sir Mark to be sacked.

Her intervention came after Mr Falter called for Sir Mark to resign.

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

'Gaslighting'

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".

Read More: London has not become a 'no-go zone' for Jews, Sadiq Khan insists, after warning from UK counter-terror official

Gideon Falter is Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism
Gideon Falter is Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism. Picture: Alamy

Oliver Dowden also suggested the incident was “disrepecting” Jewish people.

“The police have a hugely difficult job and we should all acknowledge that - but it is hard to think of any other minority that would be treated as disrespectfully as Jews seem to be.

Jews deserve solidarity not indifference from London’s Mayor. He should be ensuring fundamental British values of decency, tolerance and respect are championed, cherished and protected in our capital city," he told The Telegraph.

Claire Coutinho, the Energy Secretary, said the force's behaviour was “completely wrong” saying the situation for Jewish people in London is not “sustainable”.

She said it is right that “action is taken” following the incident and aslo failed to endorse Sir Mark.

Read more: Just Stop Oil plan massive disruption at airports to heap holiday hell on Brits

Oliver Dowden
Oliver Dowden suggested the incident was “disrepecting” Jewish people. Picture: Getty

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