Metropolitan Police will 'do everything it can' to prevent Armistice Day disruption after protests get go-ahead despite opposition

Wednesday 8 November 2023

There are ongoing discussions after police gave the go-ahead for a demonstration calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip to take place on Armistice Day.

On Tuesday, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley resisted pressure heaped on the force by politicians including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to try to block a pro-Palestinian gathering in London this Saturday.

In a statement on Tuesday, Sir Rowley said: “The laws created by Parliament are clear. There is no absolute power to ban protest, therefore there will be a protest this weekend.

“The law provides no mechanism to ban a static gathering of people. It contains legislation which allows us to impose conditions to reduce disruption and the risk of violence, and in the most extreme cases when no other tactics can work, for marches or moving protests to be banned."

At present, the force can only request the power to ban the event under Section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986.

That would only apply if there was the threat of serious public disorder, which could not be controlled by other measures.

Sir Rowley added: “Many have called for us to use this power to ban a planned march by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign on Saturday.

“But the use of this power is incredibly rare and must be based on intelligence which suggests there will be a real threat of serious disorder and no other way for police to manage the event. 

"At this time, the intelligence surrounding the potential for serious disorder this weekend does not meet the threshold to apply for a ban.

“The organisers have shown complete willingness to stay away from the Cenotaph and Whitehall and have no intention of disrupting the nation’s remembrance events.

"Should this change, we’ve been clear we will use powers and conditions available to us to protect locations and events of national importance at all costs."

The march will be compromised of an assortment of groups such as Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War and the Muslim Association of Britain.

They have insisted they will press ahead with the demonstration calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Concerns have been circulating that breakaway groups from the main march could come into conflict with the march, adding to policing difficulties.

English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, who's X account was recently reactivated, has been rallying his followers to mobilise and turn on Saturday.

He said in a video: "The importance of this is not for a right, it's not for violence, it's not to turn up drunk, to turn up aggressive, it's to turn up and show our Government and show our police and show Hamas and everyone who's sitting around the world saying 'Britain has fallen' that there is a resistance.

"That the silent majority have had enough in this country of the abuse and the liberties that are being taken on our sacred day."

A call to arms has also been issued on social media by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance, a right-wing organisation that uses football fan networks to spread Islamophobic hate.

A post on the group’s Facebook page said: “Vets have reached out and asked for our support due to the threat from the far-left and pro-Palestinian supporters to disrupt the Remembrance Day parade.

“We are calling on all football lads up and down the country to join us in standing shoulder to shoulder with our veterans that fought for our freedom.”

The planned route for the London march goes from Hyde Park, about a mile from the Cenotaph, to the US embassy in Vauxhall, south of the Thames.

The King and Queen will be in attendance at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday.