Sadiq Khan concerned by Met Police threat to arrest ‘openly Jewish’ man

Sadiq Khan says he is concerned about the Metropolitan Police’s handling of an incident in which an officer described an Anti-Semitism campaigner as “openly Jewish”.

Gideon Falter was threatened with arrest near a pro-Palestine march, prompting the force to apologise twice.

Mr Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, wore a kippah skull cap when he was stopped from crossing the road near the demonstration in the Aldwych area of London last Saturday.

A video clip showed one police officer saying to him: “You are quite openly Jewish, this is a pro-Palestinian march, I’m not accusing you of anything but I’m worried about the reaction to your presence.”

A spokesman for the London Mayor said: “Everybody must feel safe going about in London wherever they please.

“The way the original incident was dealt with by the Met was concerning and the original response put out by them was insensitive and wrong.

“The Met have an extremely difficult job – particularly so when it comes to operational decisions taken while policing marches.

“But in the end 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.”

An earlier apology from the Met suggested opponents of the marches “must know that their presence is provocative” and they are “increasing the likelihood of an altercation” by lining the route to object.

Sadiq Khan (Victoria Jones/PA Wire)
Sadiq Khan (Victoria Jones/PA Wire)

But late on Friday, the force issued another statement apologising for the “further offence” this earlier apology had caused.

A Home Office spokesman said the Government welcomed the Met’s admission.

But added that being Jewish or any other religion should not be seen as “provocative”, adding people “should be free to go about their lives and feel safe doing so”.

It is understood Home Secretary James Cleverly has written to both the Met and Mr Khan.

Mr Falter said he had been walking in the capital after attending synagogue and was not there to counter-protest.

In the clip another officer said to him: “There’s a unit of people here now.

“You will be escorted out of this area so you can go about your business, go where you want freely, or if you choose to remain here because you are causing a breach of peace with all these other people, you will be arrested.”

The officer said that Mr Falter’s presence was “antagonising”.

Mr Falter said afterwards: “Despite being told repeatedly that London is safe for Jews when these marches are taking place, my interactions with police officers last Saturday show that the Met believes that being openly Jewish will antagonise the anti-Israel marchers and that Jews need protection, which the police cannot guarantee.

“Instead of addressing that threat of antisemitic violence, the Met’s policy instead seems to be that law-abiding Jewish Londoners should not be in the parts of London where these marches are taking place.

“In other words, that they are no-go zones for Jews.”

Mr Falter said he will be walking in London on April 27, adding that no part of the city should be unsafe.

Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in London last Saturday to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and urge the Government to stop all arms sales to Israel.

Crowds waved Palestinian flags, chanted “Free Palestine” and held signs calling for a “ceasefire now” and an end to arms sales.