Sadiq Khan dragged into Armistice Day row as Met Police refuse to stop protests

Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan has been dragged into the row over the Armistice Day protests

Millie Cooke

By Millie Cooke

Published: 08/11/2023

- 16:41

Updated: 08/11/2023

- 17:56

Hall slammed the protests as being 'completely unacceptable', suggesting Khan should have been involved in stopping them

Sadiq Khan has been dragged into the row over the Armistice Day protests, with London Mayoral Candidate Susan Hall claiming he failed to intervene over the upcoming protests taking place on Remembrance Sunday.

She slammed the protests as being "completely unacceptable", suggesting Khan should have been involved in stopping them.

Hall told GB News: "It is completely unacceptable to disrupt Remembrance Day with a political protest like this and Sadiq Khan and the Met Police should be putting a stop to it.

"This is a day to reflect on the human costs of war for all combatants and I would urge people to approach the day in that spirit."

WATCH: Rishi Sunak says he will hold Rowley to account

One of the London Mayor's key responsibilities is overseeing the work of the Metropolitan Police.

But the Public Order Act 1986 states that stopping a march going ahead is an operational matter for the police, which falls under the remit of the Home Secretary.

A source close to Sadiq Khan said: "It’s deeply concerning that someone aspiring to be Mayor of London appears to have no understanding of the law and seems to want to intervene in operational policing.”

The Conservative Government has faced mounting criticism in recent days for its failure to intervene and demand the force ban protests in London during remembrance services over the weekend.

Earlier today, Sunak was accused of "picking fights" with the Police after he warned he would hold the force "accountable" for the decision, dubbing the marches "disrespectful".

When asked about the protests, Sunak said: "This is a decision that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner has made and he has said that he can ensure that he safeguards remembrance for the country this weekend as well as keep the public safe.

"Now, my job is to hold them accountable for that.

"We've asked the police for information on how they will ensure that this happens and I'll be meeting the Metropolitan Police Commissioner later today to discuss these marches."

He is meeting with Met Police Chief Mark Rowley to discuss the protests.

Speaking to broadcasters during a visit to a school in Lincolnshire, the PM added: "More broadly, my view is that these marches are disrespectful and that's what I'll be discussing with the police commissioner later today."

Asked if he is worried about the desecration of war memorials after Rochdale Cenotaph was vandalised, Sunak said: "Desecration of war memorials is absolutely sickening.

"This weekend will be about the country coming together to pay tribute and recognise the sacrifice of so many over so many years.

"That's what I'll be doing and I think that's what the majority of this country will be doing this weekend - marking that moment with the dignity and respect that it deserves."

But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer hit back, saying: "Remembrance events must be respected. Full stop.

“But the person the PM needs to hold accountable is his Home Secretary. Picking a fight with the police instead of working with them is cowardice.

“The Tories put party before country. Labour will deliver the change Britain needs.”

But a Tory source questioned: "Who runs the police? Sadiq runs the police... Its got nothing to do with the Home Secretary."

Police officers are guarding Rochdale Cenotaph after two incidents saw graffiti sprayed and a number of poppy wreaths damaged at the memorial.

There has been growing agitation over the prospect of protests taking place over the weekend.

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden called a Cobra meeting to consider the impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict in the UK, which escalated after Hamas' terror attack on Israel on October 7.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman yesterday said the meeting had been planned to "look at a wide range of areas but it’s obviously particularly focused on the impact of the terrorist attack on the UK domestically”.

It also looked at how to address important issues around “community cohesion”.

Previously, Downing Street said such protests would be "an affront to the public" if they go wrong.

The PM's official spokesman said: “To plan these sorts of protests in and around Armistice Day is provocative, it’s disrespectful. Should memorials be desecrated or should we see some of the instances of racial hatred for which there were arrests at the weekend be expressed on these days? I think that would be an affront to the British public.”

The Metropolitan Police asked demonstrators planning to hold a pro-Palestinian rally in London on Armistice Weekend to “urgently reconsider” their protest, after having met with organisers from a range of groups yesterday to discuss concerns about the march.

Although the planned route will not go past the Cenotaph, the Met Police said organisers have declined to postpone the demonstration.

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