Counter-terror investigation launched into deepfake of Sadiq Khan backing pro-Palestine protest on Armistice Day

10 November 2023, 13:20 | Updated: 10 November 2023, 19:08

Police are investigating the clip that has emerged online.
Police are investigating the clip that has emerged online. Picture: Social media/Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Police are investigating a deepfake of Sadiq Khan backing pro-Palestine protests on Armistice Day.

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The fake clip, which is circulating across social media, shows Mr Khan discussing the pro-Palestine protests planned for Armistice Day amid concerns there will be disruption.

In the deepfake video, Mr Khan is purported to say: "The Prime Minister meeting with [Sir] Mark [Rowley] yesterday is a complete waste of time.

"The buck stops with me, Mark reports to me, I know we have Armistice Day on Saturday but why should Londoners cancel the Palestinian march on Saturday? Why don’t they have remembrance weekend next weekend?

"What’s happening in Gaza is much bigger than this weekend and it’s current."

Read more: Suella Braverman breaks cover as Chancellor distances himself after comments accusing police of protest bias

Read more: Senior police chief says politics won’t stop police doing their job on Palestine protests, as he defends independence

Mr Khan said: "While I hosted an interfaith Remembrance event with our armed forces at City Hall: the far-right were sharing deepfake audio about me.

"They may have new means, but their ends are the same - to divide our diverse communities. We must stand together - it’s what London does best."

Fake video of Sadiq Khan backing pro-Palestine protest on Armistice Day sweeps social media

A spokesperson for the Mayor said: "The Met and their counter terror experts are aware of this fake video that is being circulated and amplified on social media by far-right groups, and are actively investigating."

A statement from the Met said: "We can confirm that we have been made aware of a video featuring artificial audio of the Mayor, and that this is with specialist officers for assessment."

Addressing the protests on Twitter, the Mayor previously said: "This weekend’s Remembrance commemorations are a hugely important part of our national calendar, where we remember all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

"I welcome the decision by organisers of planned protests to avoid the area of the Cenotaph. It is vital that the commemorations go ahead unaffected.

"For anyone thinking about ignoring conditions put in place by the police and stoking up disorder, the Met have been very clear - action will be taken. The right to protest is a cornerstone of our democracy, but it must always be peaceful and lawful.

"The police will move against anyone found breaking the law, including taking strong action against anyone committing hate crime.

"This weekend more than ever we must stand united against hatred and division."

It comes after fake audio of Sir Keir Starmer emerged on the first day of the Labour conference last month.

The clip suggested the leader was being abusive to staff - but it was not real and the incident did not happen.

Chancellor distances himself from Home Secretary's criticism of Met Police over protest

The November 11 march, on which protesters will again call for a ceasefire in Gaza, has been controversial because it coincides with the day of solemn remembrance for Britain's war dead.

Police chief Sir Mark Rowley, however, said that he will not formally ask the Home Secretary to ban the protest - despite facing mounting political pressure to do so.

He said that the force does not believe the legal threshold to ban the protest has been met.

The Met has now reportedly drafted in more than 1,000 officers from forces across England and Wales to assist in policing the weekend’s events.

Police chiefs are said to have cancelled leave and extended overtime in a bid to ensure officers have enough reinforcement, according to the MailOnline.

It comes after Mr Sunak labelled plans for an Armistice Day protest as "provocative and disrespectful" and said there was a “clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated".