‘Openly Jewish’ charity chief says Met boss Mark Rowley has ‘failed abjectly’ to stand up for Jews – as he faces showdown with London Mayor amid calls to quit over pro-Palestine march vid

‘Openly Jewish’ charity chief says Met boss Mark Rowley has ‘failed abjectly’ to stand up for Jews – as he faces showdown with London Mayor amid calls to quit over pro-Palestine march vid

An antisemitism campaigner who was threatened with arrest at a Gaza protest today said Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley had ‘failed abjectly’ to stand up for Jews and urged him to quit. 

Scotland Yard’s Commissioner has come under fire after a video emerged of a police officer telling Campaign Against Antisemitism leader Gideon Falter that him being ‘openly Jewish’ was a provocation to pro-Palestinian demonstrators. 

Speaking about the incident today on Good Morning Britain, Mr Falter said: ‘I think he needs to resign. The change the Met needs has to come from the top. He’s had six months to get a grip of this and he’s failed.’

Sir Mark has been called in for a crisis meeting today with London Mayor Sadiq Khan. He will also meet with Home Secretary James Cleverly this week, where Britain’s most senior police officer will be asked to account for the incident.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was left ‘appalled’ after watching the footage, according to a Government source. Mr Falter had just been to synagogue and was wearing a skullcap and had a bag bearing the Star of David. 

Sir Mark today faces showdown talks from today amid a row over the treatment of a Jewish man at a pro-Palestine protest

Sir Mark has faced calls to quit or be sacked after a video emerged of a police officer suggesting Gideon Falter being 'openly Jewish' was a provocation to protesters at the march

Appearing on GMB today, Mr Falter was asked about new footage which showed the policeman accusing him of being ‘disingenuous’ and seeking to antagonise the Pro-Palestine marchers.   

But he insisted: ‘I was just being Jewish. I was trying to walk around on the street, I was trying to cross the road.

‘This officer’s comment about being disingenuous comes after he realises that he has seriously messed up by saying ‘by being openly Jewish you are provoking people, you are antagonising people and I’m going to arrest you if you stay here’.

‘So once people had whipped out smartphones he starts saying I was disingenuous. There aren’t many ways to cross a road, you just cross a road. And the entire idea I was trying to provoke something – how?

‘I wasn’t wearing a badge, I didn’t have a sign, I wasn’t waving a flag or shouting a slogan. I was just walking around with my kippah on after synagogue and had a small bag which you have a prayer shawl in which has a small Star of David on.

‘It was a Saturday in London and people were crossing every which-way. Because I was Jewish I couldn’t.’

Mr Falter said frontline police had been placed in an ‘impossible situation’.

‘You’ve got up to 100,000 protesters and a much smaller number of police trying to deal with it – they are outnumbered and they probably are intimidated,’ he said. 

‘For me it’s not about these frontline officers. It’s about the decisions that have been made for six months now by Sir Mark Rowley who was failed abjectly to stand up for Jewish Londoners.

‘He’s curtailed our rights to walk around the street in favour of letting these huge groups of protesters to do what they want.’

Mr Falter said he was called ‘Nazi’, ‘scum’ and ‘disgusting’ by pro-Palestine marchers. 

‘It’s been a week now since that happened. Where are the investigations into these people?’

Asked if he would go back to the protest next Saturday, he said: ‘Yes, after what happened I think it’s very important Jews feel able to walk on the streets. 

‘We’re going to walk along the route and force the police that these things are safe for Jewish people.

‘We’ve been gas lit for months by the Met. They keep saying these things are safe and brilliant policed. The reality is they’ve so badly policed that if you’re a Jew on the sidelines they have to threaten you with arrest to get rid of you.’

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said the Met had shown ‘disrespect’ to the Jewish community, while Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho declined to call for the Met chief to resign – saying it was a matter for Mayor of London

The force issued a statement apologising for the incident, but was forced to apologise for its apology after suggesting opponents of pro-Palestinian marches ‘must know that their presence is provocative’.

Although the commissioner has retained the confidence of the mayor and the Government, concerns have been raised about the Met’s approach to the now-routine protests in the capital and its impact on relations with the Jewish community.

Sir Mark will meet Mr Khan today to discuss ‘community relations’ and is expected to speak to representatives of organisations including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the London Jewish Forum and the Community Safety Trust.

He will also meet Mr Cleverly in the coming days.

Mr Falter has questioned why police officers allowed protesters to call him and his friends, 'scum', disgusting' and 'Nazis' as well as shouting 'lock them up'

Scotland Yard's commissioner Sir Mark has been called in for a crisis meeting today with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

Sir Mark will also meet with Home Secretary James Cleverly this week where he is expected to be asked to account for the officer's treatment of Mr Falter

Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist has offered to meet Mr Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) and the campaigner at the centre of the most recent row, to apologise to him personally.

Mr Falter said he accepted the assistant commissioner’s apology for the original Met statement, and added he had spoken to the chairman of the Met Police Federation to discuss the need for a change of leadership at Scotland Yard.

Both Mr Falter and former home secretary Suella Braverman have called for Sir Mark to resign, saying he has ’emboldened’ antisemites by failing to curtail the marches.

Ms Braverman told GMB: ‘I think Sir Mark should go. The Home Secretary and the Prime Minister need to show leadership and I don’t think it’s sustainable for him to continue.’ 

The mayor and the Home Secretary have the power to dismiss the commissioner, but sources from both the Government and the mayoralty have said his job is not under threat.

But former Met Police Chief Superintendent Dal Babu said he had watched the full footage and felt the narrative being ‘pushed’ by Mr Falter was ‘not accurate’. 

‘You see him attempting to go against the march and go against the officers,’ he told BBC Breakfast. 

‘For 13 minutes the officers show great restraint and offer him to take him to a crossing point. 

‘So the narrative that has been pushed is not accurate. If I was policing the march I would have been tempted to arrest him for assaulting a police officer.’

Government sources have sought to put pressure on Mr Khan, saying it is up to the mayor to hold Sir Mark to account.

A spokesman for Mr Khan said 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’.

Sir Mark himself has reiterated the force’s apology and acknowledged that some officers’ actions had increased ‘concerns’.

Ahead of a meeting with Sir Mark this week, Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said she is not yet calling for the Commissioner’s resignation, but some serious incidents are causing the Jewish community to have a ‘complete loss of confidence in the police’.

She told Times Radio: ‘Historically, the Jewish community has always had a very good relationship with the police and I think it’s really important that we do so going forward.

‘And the responsible thing to do is to put our concerns, and they have been widely, widely publicised. And it’s up to the police now to be able to tell us what they’re going to be able to do.

‘And if the police feel that they need more legislation, then that’s also a matter for the Government and the Home Secretary.’

It comes as Sky News published extended footage of the exchange between the officer and Mr Falter at the protest in the Aldwych area on April 13. 

In it the officer says Mr Falter deliberately walked into the crowd and accuses him of trying to ‘antagonise’ protesters. 

A Met Police sergeant then stops Mr Falter from walking towards the march and instead offers to escort him along a safer route. 

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has also been highly critical of the Met but stopped short of saying Sir Mark should go

On Sky News, Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho declined to call for the Met chief to resign - saying it was a matter for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

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The Met Police has apologised (above) for an earlier statement in which it suggested counter-protesters at pro-Palestine marches were being deliberately 'provocative'

The CAA labelled the earlier statement 'atrocious' and claimed the Met was not outlining how it would protect Jewish people in London

Writing in The Sunday Times, Mr Falter questioned why police officers allowed protesters to call him and his friends, ‘scum’, disgusting’ and ‘Nazis’ as well as shouting ‘lock them up’.

‘I didn’t have a flag or a placard or anything that would in any way mark me out from any other normal Londoner except for the fact that I was wearing a skullcap,’ he said.

‘By the actions of the Metropolitan Police, it’s not just that central London is a ‘no-go zone’ for Jews, as has been said previously, but a police-enforced Jew-free zone.’

Mr Fatler went on to call for Sir Mark Rowley to resign claiming he had ‘lost control of the streets’ and needs to ‘either resign or be removed’ for ‘change’ to occur.


Rory Tingle

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