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Seven charged after chaotic Armistice Day violence in London condemned by PM and police
12 November 2023, 17:05
Seven people have been charged with offences after Armistice Day violence in London which was condemned by politicians and police.
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John Harvey, Ethan Stapely, Taylor Warne, Sam Fairclough, James Buckley, William Duncan and Karl Jordan were charged on Sunday with offences ranging from assault and resisting arrest to possession of weapons and drugs after the chaos on London streets on Saturday.
Harvey, 75, of Hackney, was charged with criminal damage with Stapely, 23, of Norfolk charged with resisting arrest.
Warne, 21, of Kent, was charged with possession of Class A drugs - whereas Fairclough, 33, of Flintshire, and Buckley, 42, from Manchester were both charged with possession of an offensive weapon.
Duncan, 48, of West Lothian, was charged with being drunk and disorderly - and Jordan, 47, of Hounslow, was charged with the assault of an emergency worker.
The charges are the first after 145 protesters were arrested and nine police officers were injured in clashes between far-right and Pro-Palestine groups on Saturday.
All seven individuals will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday.
Confirming the charges, the Met's Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “Public order policing doesn’t end when demonstrators go home.
"We have teams of officers who continue to build cases against those in custody and launch investigations into those who come to our attention when images and videos are shared on social media.
“Since the end of yesterday’s demonstration we’ve published appeals in relation to six incidents and I have no doubt there will be more to follow. Our colleagues at the British Transport Police have published a further two appeals."
Rishi Sunak and Met Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist slammed the actions of protesters on Armistice Day - as far-right thugs fought with police trying to reach the Cenotaph and Pro-Palestinian activists were seen harassing politicians.
Violent clashes erupted between far-right counter-protesters and police as 300,000 pro-Palestinian activists marched through central London.
Thousands of counter-protesters descended onto central London earlier this morning ahead of a two-minute silence near the Cenotaph.
The Prime Minister said in a statement: “I condemn the violent, wholly unacceptable scenes we have seen today from the EDL and associated groups and Hamas sympathisers attending the National March for Palestine. The despicable actions of a minority of people undermine those who have chosen to express their views peacefully."
AC Matt Twist said: "This operation took place in unique circumstances, against a backdrop of conflict in the Middle East, on Armistice Day and following a week of intense debate about protest and policing.
"These all combined to increase community tensions. The extreme violence from the right wing protestors towards the police today was extraordinary and deeply concerning.
"They arrived early, stating they were there to protect monuments, but some were already intoxicated, aggressive and clearly looking for confrontation.
"Abuse was directed at officers protecting the Cenotaph, including chants of 'you’re not English any more'."
This group were largely football hooligans from across the UK and spent most of the day attacking or threatening officers who were seeking to prevent them being able to confront the main march.
"Many in these groups were stopped and searched and weapons including a knife, a baton and knuckleduster were found as well as class A drugs.
"Thanks to the considerable efforts of our officers, who put themselves in harm’s way, nobody was able to reach the Cenotaph, which was protected at all times.
"Nine officers were injured during the day, two requiring hospital treatment with a fractured elbow and a suspected dislocated hip. Those officers were injured on Whitehall as they prevented a violent crowd getting to the Cenotaph while a remembrance service was taking place."
Counter-protesters moved back as pro-Palestinian activists march in London
Fights quickly broke out between police and the counter-protesters, with footage showing a large group chanting 'England 'til I die' and 'let's have them' as the broke through a human barrier of officers.
Violent clashes then quickly broke out in Chinatown, Soho, shortly afterwards, where riot police were called in as counter-protesters launched missiles at officers.
It was at this point that the English Defence League's former leader Tommy Robinson, who had called on his followers to 'protect' the Cenotaph in the week, left in a taxi.
Shortly afterwards, a pro-Palestinian march - attracting 300,000 activists at its peak - started a planned demonstration at Hyde Park.
A spokesperson for the Met said: "While the two minutes’ silence was marked respectfully and without incident on Whitehall, officers have faced aggression from counter protestors who are in the area in significant numbers.
"The counter protestors are not one cohesive group. There are different groups moving away from Whitehall towards other parts of central London. "
"Officers are keeping track of them as they do. If their intention is to confront the main protest departing later today from Park Lane, we will use all the powers and tactics available to us to prevent that from happening."
More violence erupted near Whitehall later in the afternoon, with footage taken by LBC showing bottles and missiles being thrown at officers near Parliament.
Sangita Myska reacts as 92 'right-wing counter-protesters' have been arrested by the Met police
The Cenotaph has been on 24-hour guard from officers - those found gathering near the memorial can be arrested under measures announced by the Met.
Mr Sunak issued an earlier statement on Friday afternoon, saying: "This weekend people across the United Kingdom will stand together in quiet reflection to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
"This act of remembrance is fundamental to who we are as a country and I want to reassure those wishing to pay their respects, attend services and travel that they can and should do so.
“Following my meeting with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner earlier this week - and the Government’s engagement with police forces around the country – the police assure us they are taking all steps to ensure Remembrance services are safeguarded from any protests.
"Protests will only be permitted far away from Remembrance events, and the Cenotaph in Whitehall – the abiding symbol of Remembrance – has been placed in an exclusion zone and will be guarded around the clock to protect it for those travelling to pay their respects."
He added that the government had banned several protests that had been planned for train stations, which he says "were only designed to disrupt and intimidate".
“It is because of those who fought for this country and for the freedom we cherish that those who wish to protest can do so, but they must do so respectfully and peacefully," Mr Sunak continued.
"Remembrance weekend is sacred for us all and should be a moment of unity, of our shared British values and of solemn reflection. Above all, this weekend should be about the selfless bravery of our armed forces. We shall remember them.”
More than 10,000 people have died in Gaza amid an Israeli bombing campaign and ground invasion, which follows a Hamas massacre in which over 1,000 were killed.
The protesters are calling for a ceasefire, which neither Hamas nor Israel has said they want, although the IDF has agreed to daily humanitarian pauses to allow aid into Gaza.
The Prime Minister has faced calls to sack Home Secretary Suella Braverman after her incendiary comments about the planned pro-Palestine, writing in an article for The Times.
Downing Street said on Thursday that it did not clear her piece accusing police of "playing favourites" with protesters, but that Mr Sunak still has confidence in the Home Secretary.
But the Prime Minister is said to be considering Ms Braverman's future, and considering the possibility of bringing forward a Cabinet reshuffle previously slated for before Christmas.
Downing Street is conducting an internal investigation into whether Ms Braverman broke the code by not getting her article signed off fully. If it finds there was a breach, Mr Sunak may either demand an apology, or fire her.