Tories demand PM apologise after cops rescue Starmer from mob hurling 'Jimmy Savile' abuse

7 February 2022, 18:22 | Updated: 8 February 2022, 07:30

  • Sir Keir Starmer bundled into police car after being accosted by frenzied mob of protesters
  • Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers among ‘aggressive’ group who targeted politicians
  • MPs blame Boris Johnson claiming he ‘incited’ the group’s behaviour
  • David Lammy, who was there, told LBC they were 'stoked by mainstream politics'
  • Sadiq Khan: “This is what happens when fake news is amplified”
  • Two people arrested after traffic cone thrown at police
  • PM criticised for repeating a debunked slur about Sir Keir Starmer and Jimmy Savile in the Commons

By Sophie Barnett

Boris Johnson has been blamed for inciting hate after Sir Keir Starmer was mobbed outside Parliament by protesters chanting "Jimmy Savile" and "traitor".

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The Labour leader had to be rescued by police after he was surrounded as he left Parliament shortly after 5pm on Monday, following a briefing on Ukraine at the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Footage posted to social media shows a crowd of demonstrators surrounding the Labour leader as he was led into a police vehicle.

Protesters, claiming to be from the "Freedom Movement", were heard chanting “Jimmy Savile” at Sir Keir in reference to Boris Johnson’s slur directed at the Labour leader. Jeremy Corbyn's brother Piers is understood to have been among the protesters at one point.

Sir Keir was ambushed outside Parliament today by protesters repeating the PM's baseless Savile slur
Sir Keir was ambushed outside Parliament today by protesters repeating the PM's baseless Savile slur. Picture: PA/Alamy

Officers were forced to quickly intervene after the group hurled abuse at Sir Keir, with the incident condemned by many online.

Conservative MP and former chief whip Julian Smith described the incident as "appalling", as he called on the Prime Minister to withdraw his "slur".

"It is really important for our democracy & for his security that the false Savile slurs made against him are withdrawn in full," Mr Smith said.

Replying to Mr Smith, Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood added: "PM - Apologise please. We claim to be the Mother of all Parliaments.

"Let’s stop this drift towards a Trumpian style of politics from becoming the norm. We are better than this."

Sir Roger Gale MP posted online: "Grim scenes outside Parliament today and disgraceful treatment of Sir Keir Starmer.

"All Members of Parliament have a right to go about our lawful business without intimidation. This, I fear, is the direct result of the deliberately careless use of language in the Chamber."

Tory MPs Stephen Hammond, Anthony Mangnall, Aaron Bell and Rob Largan also publicly condemned the comments made by Boris Johnson.

Simon Hoare, another Tory, retweeted Mr Smith's remarks while former cabinet minister David Davis told late on Monday night that LBC Mr Johnson needed to say sorry.

The Prime Minister posted online: "The behaviour directed at the Leader of the Opposition tonight is absolutely disgraceful.

"All forms of harassment of our elected representatives are completely unacceptable.

"I thank the police for responding swiftly."

David Lammy, who was next to Sir Keir during the incident, told LBC: “On exiting the MoD, walking down, not very far from the MoD, we were accosted by a rabble of what appeared to be people chanting about the vaccine, but also repeating slurs we heard in Parliament last week.. in relation to Jimmy Savile and Keir Starmer.

“It was very aggressive, very ferocious, incredibly hostile.

“I think the atmosphere was febrile and the behaviour of some of the protesters was slightly crazed.

“This rabble crossed the street… once they had spotted Keir Starmer and myself.

“I’m born and raised in Tottenham. I wasn’t going to let these thugs get their way. Keir was incredibly cool, very collected and was simply determined to make his way back and into parliament.

“What they were chanting was obscene, it was horrific. This sort of behaviour is undemocratic, it’s not in the spirit of how we have differences of opinion or debate in our country.

“Some of what we were hearing had been stoked by mainstream politics from the despatch box.”

Read more: Boris 'belts out I will Survive' to new communications chief after shake-up at No10

Read more: Sunak distances himself from Boris' Jimmy Savile 'slur' at Keir Starmer

Labour MP for the Rhondda, Chris Bryant, also criticised Boris Johnson for his "recycled lies".

"This was incited by the prime minister," he posted online. "It was the inevitable conclusion of his deliberate lies."

"People were shouting all sorts at Keir, including 'Jimmy Savile'," Mr Bryant said.

"This is what happens when a prime minister descends into the gutter and recycles lies from hard-right conspiracy theorists.

"Political poison has an effect. Johnson has no moral compass."

Deputy Commons Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing tweeted: "Tonight, the Leader of the Opposition, Sir @Keir_Starmer, and the Shadow Foreign Secretary, @DavidLammy, were mobbed outside @UKParliament.

"This is unacceptable. Period.

"Elected representatives must be able to go about their work without the fear of verbal or physical attacks."

Read more: Stinging rebuke from Speaker over Boris Johnson's Jimmy Savile slur in Commons

A spokesman for the Met Police said a man and a woman were arrested at the scene for assault of an emergency worker after a traffic cone was thrown at a police officer.

"Shortly after 17.10hrs on Monday, 7 February, a man who had been surrounded by a group of protesters near to New Scotland Yard, was taken away from the scene by a police car," the spokesman said.

"A man and a woman were arrested at the scene for assault of an emergency worker after a traffic cone was thrown at a police officer.

"They have been taken into custody."

He added it is "no surprise" the conspiracy theorist "thugs" who harassed him and Sir Keir "repeated slurs we heard from Boris Johnson".

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said "this is what happens when fake news is amplified and given credibility by people who should know better".

He thanked the Met Police for their swift action as he said he stood in "solidarity" with Sir Keir and David Lammy.

The incident comes after Mr Johnson made a disproved claim in the Commons last week that Sir Keir failed to prosecute Savile when he was director of public prosecutions.

He said: "Instead this leader of the opposition - a former director of public prosecution who used his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile, as far as I can see - he chose to use this moment to continually pre-judge a police inquiry."

Mr Johnson's head of policy, Munira Mirza, resigned over his remarks.

While Chancellor Rishi Sunak distanced himself from the prime minister's comments, saying: "Being honest I wouldn't have said it and I'm glad that the Prime Minister clarified what he meant."