Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley faces calls to quit over Gaza protests

Scotland Yard has apologised after the CAA published footage of a police officer describing its head as 'openly Jewish'

The head of the Metropolitan Police is facing calls to quit over the force’s handling of pro-Palestinian protests.

Both the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) and former home secretary Suella Braverman have called for Sir Mark Rowley to resign or be sacked, accusing him of having “emboldened” antisemites.

Ms Braverman used an op-ed in The Sunday Telegraph to demand Sir Mark’s resignation, saying people who were “flagrantly antisemitic” were being “waved on by the police”.

She said: “Either this is gross incompetence, or it’s a culture coming from the top, where thugs are free to intimidate and harass while the rest of us have to keep our mouths shut and stay out of the way.”

In a statement, the CAA’s chief executive, Gideon Falter, said: “Racists, extremists and terrorist sympathisers have watched the excuses and inertia of the Met under his command and been emboldened by his inaction at precisely the moment when he should be signalling a renewed determination to crack down on this criminality.

CAA founder Gideon Falter was threatened with arrest at a pro-Palestinian demonstration earlier this month. Credit: PA

“What the Met under Sir Mark has done to the Jewish community over the course of six months is utterly unforgivable and it is time for him to go. Enough is enough.”

Other figures including Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden were highly critical of the Met but stopped short of saying Sir Mark should go.

On Sunday, Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho and Labour’s shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood both said they do not think he should resign.

Sir Mark said: “Every member of the Met is determined to ensure that London is a city in which everyone feels safe.

“We absolutely understand how vulnerable Jewish and Muslim Londoners feel since the terrorist attacks on Israel.

“Some of our actions have increased this concern. I personally reiterate our apology from earlier this week.

“Today, as with every other day, our officers will continue to police with courage, empathy and impartiality.”

Mr Falter has been at the centre of a row about the policing of demonstrations after the CAA published footage of a police officer describing him as “openly Jewish” during a protest in central London on April 13.

In the clip, another officer told Mr Falter he would be arrested if he did not leave the area because he was “causing a breach of peace with all these other people” as his presence was “antagonising”.

The Met apologised on Friday, suggesting opponents of pro-Palestinian marches “must know that their presence is provocative” and they are “increasing the likelihood of an altercation” by lining the route to object.

But the force subsequently issued another statement apologising for the “further offence” caused by its first apology.

Policing minister Chris Philp said on Saturday he was “deeply concerned” and would meet Sir Mark the following week to discuss the incident.

He said: “No-one should be told their religion is provocative, nor an innocent person threatened with arrest solely because of someone else’s anticipated unreasonable reaction.

Home Secretary James Cleverly has also written to the Met and London Mayor Sadiq Khan about the incident.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We welcome the Met Police’s apology, and recognise the complexities of policing fast-moving public protests, but simply being Jewish – or of any other race or religion – should never be seen as provocative.

“Anyone of any religion should be free to go about their lives and feel safe doing so.”

A spokesperson for Mr Khan said: “Everybody must feel safe going about in London wherever they please.

“The way the original incident was dealt with by the Met was concerning and the original response put out by them was insensitive and wrong.

“The Met have an extremely difficult job – particularly so when it comes to operational decisions taken while policing marches – but in the end the Met must have the confidence of the communities they serve and it is right that they have apologised for the way the incident was handled and their original public response.”

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