Met Commissioner to discuss protests with mayor and Jewish groups


The Metropolitan Police Commissioner will meet members of London’s Jewish community and mayor Sadiq Khan on Monday, after a row over his force’s handling of protests.

Sir Mark Rowley has faced calls to quit after an antisemitism campaigner was threatened with arrest at a pro-Palestine protest, where officers described him as “openly Jewish” and said his presence was “antagonising” demonstrators.

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 on Monday 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.

Sadiq Khan
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan will discuss ‘community relations’ with Sir Mark Rowley (Victoria Jones/PA)

He will also meet Home Secretary James Cleverly in the coming days.

Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist has offered to meet Gideon 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.

Both 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.

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.”