• Sunday, June 23, 2024

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Braverman accuses Met of bias in handling pro-Palestinian protests

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Home Secretary Suella Braverman walks outside Number 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain, October 24, 2023. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has sparked controversy with accusations that the Metropolitan Police are “playing favourites” in their handling of pro-Palestinian protests. In an article published in The Times, Braverman alleged that while right-wing protests that turned aggressive were often stopped, “pro-Palestinian mobs” were allowed to continue.

The Met Police have rejected Braverman’s claims, stating that there are no grounds to ban a pro-Palestinian march scheduled to take place amid remembrance commemorations on Saturday (11).

Braverman’s comments have drawn widespread criticism, with Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper describing them as a “dangerous attempt to undermine respect for police” and London mayor Sadiq Khan calling them “irresponsible”, the BBC reported.

Braverman’s remarks have also caused rifts within her own party, with one senior Conservative figure calling her comments “unhinged.”

Under mounting pressure to prevent Saturday’s pro-Palestinian march, London’s Metropolitan Police chief, Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, has affirmed that the march will only be halted if a clear and imminent threat of serious disorder emerges.

Rowley emphasised that the threshold for such an intervention is exceptionally high and has not yet been met.
Braverman expressed concerns about the pro-Palestinian marches, which commenced last month in response to the Gaza siege.

She cited “violence on the periphery” and the presence of “highly offensive” chants, posters, and stickers as grounds for her apprehension.

“Unfortunately, there is a perception that senior police officers play favourites when it comes to protesters,” she said.

“Right-wing and nationalist protesters who engage in aggression are rightly met with a stern response yet pro-Palestinian mobs displaying almost identical behaviour are largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law.”

She further said that she perceived the marches not as a mere plea for assistance for Gaza but as a display of dominance by certain groups, particularly Islamists, similar to the demonstrations we are more accustomed to witnessing in Northern Ireland.

An individual close to the home secretary clarified that her remark was directed towards the actions of “dissident republicans.”

In response to the article, one Conservative Party source condemned the comparison with Northern Ireland as “completely offensive and ignorant.”

In a statement posted on social media, Cooper accused Braverman of attempting to undermine the operational independence of the police and “inflame community tensions.”

She asserted Braverman is “out of control” and deliberately seeking to incite political division around Remembrance Day, a time when the entire country should unite to honour the sacrifices of the past.

“No other Home Secretary of any party would ever do this,” she said.

Khan denounced the article as “inaccurate, inflammatory, and irresponsible” and urged Braverman to assist the police in maintaining public safety during this sensitive period, rather than hindering their efforts.

Sir Tom Winsor, a former Chief Inspector of Her Majesty’s Constabulary, remarked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Braverman’s decision to publish the article was “unusual”, “unprecedented,” and at odds with the longstanding constitutional agreement with the police.

Winsor’s assertion that Braverman’s comments have complicated Sir Mark’s ability to secure approval for a potential march ban in the coming days was echoed by Lord Greenhalgh, who served as deputy mayor for policing and crime during Boris Johnson’s reign as London mayor.

He said that Braverman had “crossed a line” by publicly speaking about the matter, adding that an effective relationship with the police requires both support and challenge, based on a foundation of trust and the home secretary’s actions fall short of this standard.

Additionally, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael criticised Braverman of “running a Conservative party leadership campaign, not the Home Office.”

He said that instead of collaborating with the police, she is making their already difficult jobs even more challenging.

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