Calls for Met Chief Mark Rowley to resign are ‘nonsense and dangerous’, antisemitism tsar tells LBC after protest row

22 April 2024, 18:10 | Updated: 22 April 2024, 18:14

'The idea Sir Rowley should resign is nonsense, and dangerous' says Lord Mann

By Natasha Clark and Jenny Medlicott

Calls for the Met Police commissioner to resign are ‘nonsense and dangerous’, the UK Government Adviser on Antisemitism has told LBC.

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The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) made the calls for Sir Mark to resign after an antisemitism campaigner was threatened with arrest by the Met at a protest earlier this month.

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 on April 13 could inflame tensions.

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

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.

However, Lord John Mann said that while the Met handled the response “badly” Sir Mark remains “important for the Jewish community”.

Speaking to LBC’s Tom Swarbrick, Lord Mann said: “Clearly they [the Met] handled it badly, the language was bad, the way they constructed their decision-making and their PR afterward was abysmal but I think the idea that Sir Mark Rowley should resign is nonsense and I also think it’s dangerous.

“He’s the foremost expert we have on policing and counter-terrorism in the country and the biggest single threat, in my view, and my advice to government is this as well, about terrorists and terror attacks, we need him there.

“That’s important for the country, it’s also very important for the Jewish community who could be, hopefully never will be, but could be and have been elsewhere in the world, been targets of terrorist attacks.”

Caller believes that the Met Police officer did him a 'favour' by arresting Jewish man

Earlier on Monday, Rishi Sunak put Sir Mark on notice that he must rebuild trust with the Jewish community after the latest row over protests.

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

In the original exchange between Gideon Falter, an 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.”

Mr Rowley was due to hold a series of urgent meetings on Monday to try and smooth over the row.

Mr Sunak was grilled on the ongoing row at a Downing Street press conference on Monday 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."

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

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

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".