Priti Patel 'saddened and sickened at far-right thugs' in London at the weekend

15 June 2020, 16:58

Priti Patel was speaking in the House of Commons on Monday
Priti Patel was speaking in the House of Commons on Monday. Picture: Parliament Live
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was "saddened and sickened" by the actions of "far-right thugs" in London at the weekend.

The Cabinet minister was speaking in the House of Commons on Monday following another weekend of violent clashes between demonstrators and the police in London.

During her statement, the home secretary condemned the actions of the "far-right thugs" who were seen throwing missiles and directing punches and kicks at officers on Saturday.

Ms Patel said it was "right" that a good number of those who broke the law have been arrested.

She told MPs: "Like all members of this House, I was saddened and sickened at the far-right thugs who came to London this weekend on a so-called mission to protect the statue of Sir Winston Churchill, claiming to want to protect our country's heritage and yet failing to understand that our country's heritage is founded on a set of shared values - tolerance, respect for people and property, adherence to the rule of law.

"And those thugs, far from protecting our heritage, did all that they could to destroy and undermine those values. There is no place for their sickening conduct and hate in our society."

Read more: Fourteen days in prison for man who urinated next to PC Keith Palmer memorial

Ms Patel criticised the counter-demonstrators who travelled to Westminster to oppose Black Lives Matter movements and defend the capital's statues from desecration or removal.

"They were violent, they were aggressive and abusive towards police officers. They were patently racist. It is right that a good number have been arrested," she said.

Ms Patel added: "In total, over 210,000 people have attended demonstrations across the country following the death of George Floyd.

"At least 160 protests took place this weekend, with the vast majority passing peacefully. But counter-demonstrations sparked ugly scenes. On Saturday, 2,000 people attended counter-protests in Westminster with eruptions of violence throughout the day.

"Racist and far-right hooligans clashed with the police and fights broke out. Smoke bombs, glass bottles were lobbed at the police in shameful scenes. 38 officers were hurt across the country this weekend as they were kicked, punched or pelted with missiles."

She told the Commons: "On Saturday alone, there were 137 arrests for offences including assaults on officers, violent disorder, breaches of the peace, possessions of offensive weapons and class A drugs and drunk and disorderly behaviour.

"In total, at least 100 officers have now been injured as well as three horses and one police dog and 280 arrests have been made."

Speaking to MPs, she said: "As this ugly operational picture demonstrates, many of the so-called protesters came with the deliberate intent of causing harm to those around them and to police officers. This hooliganism is utterly indefensible. There can be no excuse for pelting police officers with missiles.

"Of all the dreadful images to emerge from this weekend, the one of a man desecrating the plaque of Pc Keith Palmer was the most abhorrent."

Pc Palmer, she said, "made the ultimate sacrifice" during a terror attack "at the heart of our democracy" adding "he will never be forgotten".

The home secretary gave her "full backing" to the UK's "world-class police has never been more important."

"The scenes of violence and disorder that we have seen in recent weeks have only underlined the challenges that they face," she said.

She added: "An attack on our brave police is an attack on us all."