Home Secretary grilled over ‘gaping chasm in the law’ on tackling antisemitic hate

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Home Secretary grilled over ‘gaping chasm in the law’ on tackling antisemitic hate

Labour Friends of Israel says Sir Mark Rowley, now the Met Police commissioner, had raised concerns 2021 over 'gaping chasm in the law that allows hateful extremists to operate with impunity'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Suella Braverman speaks at Tory Party conference
Suella Braverman speaks at Tory Party conference

Suella Braverman has been reminded that the government was told two years ago that there was a “gaping chasm in the law” when it came to tackling antisemitic hate and the glorification of terrorism at demos.

In a letter sent to the home secretary by the Labour Friends of Israel organisation following concerns last weekend over the failure of police officers to arrest pro-Palestian activists engaging in inflammatory taunts, including a call for “jihad” , parliamentary chair Steve McCabe said:”I am deeply concerned about the character of the demonstrations held in London over the past two weeks following Hamas’ massacre of over 1,400 Israelis and its seizure of 222 hostages.

“The right to protest is a deeply held British value and we must all respect the right of those with whom we disagree to demonstrate freely and peacefully.

“However, this right should not include the right to spread antisemitic hate, support mass murder or glorify terrorism.

“I understand that the Metropolitan Police continues to review footage of the recent protests and will act against those suspected of breaking the law.

“As you are aware, the government is urging that the Met deploy the ‘full force of the law’ and there are multiplemedia reports accusing the police of inaction.

“However, it appears that the government was warned in 2021 by the Commission on Countering Extremism of a ‘gaping chasm in the law that allows hateful extremists to operate with impunity’.”

McCabe notes that the co-author of the 2021 report was Sir Mark Rowley, now the Met Police commissioner.

Yesterday, the investigative journalist John Ware also told Jewish News how the home office was urged back in February 2021 by Rowley to deal with the anomaly that allows extremists to scream ‘jihad’ on our streets.

Rowley wrote at the time : “Not only have our laws failed to keep pace with the evolving threat of modern-day extremism, current legal boundaries allow extremists to operate with impunity.

“They are carefully steering around existing laws in the ways we describe in our report, openly glorifying terrorism, collecting and sharing some of the most violent extremist propaganda, or intentionally stirring up racial or religious hatred against others … It is now critical for governmentto devise a new legal and operational framework to counter hateful extremism to strengthen our response, bothonline and offline. We are at a watershed moment and action is required urgently.”

The new LFI letter adds:”I understand that Sir Mark has repeated his view about the inadequacy of the law again this week.

“I would be grateful if you could clarify whether you agree with the Commission’s assessment in 2021 and, if so, what timeframe you envisage for bringing forward new proposals.”

On Monday, Rowley met with the home secretary to discuss the policing response to incidents during demonstrations related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The Home Secretary said she recognised the complexities of the law in policing aspects of these protests and prosecutor decisions.

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