Met Police chief praises ‘professional’ conduct of sergeant who stopped CAA activist

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Met Police chief praises ‘professional’ conduct of sergeant who stopped CAA activist

Sir Mark Rowley accepts the officer used 'clumsy and offensive terms' as he spoke to Gideon Falter at April 13th demo

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Gideon Falter and police officer exchange words at April 13 demo
Gideon Falter and police officer exchange words at April 13 demo

Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has praised the “professional” conduct of the sergeant who stopped antisemitism campaigner Gideon Falter at a pro-Palestinian march.

But Rowley accepted that “clumsy and offensive” words had been used by the officer who was filmed telling Falter that as he was “openly Jewish” he would not be allowed to walk across a pro-Palestinian protest march through central London on 13 April.

In an interview with the Guardian, Britain’s top police officer also warned of the risk that at other incidents at protests officers had been “set up” by activists using “fakery” in an attempt to undermine the force.

He would not comment specifically on the incident filmed by the Campaign Against Antisemitism involving Falter and the officer earlier this month.

Asked for his view on the way police had handled Falter’s arrival at the April 13th demo , Rowley said:“The sergeant at the scene clearly assessed that there was a risk of confrontation and was trying to help Mr Falter find a different route.

“I completely understand why the sergeant made this assessment. A couple of turns of phrase were … and we’ve apologised for that.”

He told the newspaper:”The wider actions and intent of the officer were professional and in the best tradition of British police trying to prevent disorder.”

Sir Mark Rowley

Rowley confirmed the officer would not face any disciplinary action, and also said both the policeman and his wife had faced “death threats” after the incident.

He said the officers had been right to prevent Falter from walking across the protest, in order to avoid the chances of any confrontation.

Rowley, who has worked closely with the London Jewish Forum and other communal leaders since the October 7th Hamas attacks, also used the interview to play down claims that the streets of central London were “no go zones” for Jews while marches were taking place.

He also revealed behind-the-scenes police had used intelligence gathered to prevent car convoys of pro-Palestine supporters driving through areas with significant Jewish communities in north London.

Rowley has also said he fully respects the right of pro-Israel supporters to hold counter-protests, on the days pro-Palestinian demos are held.

Pro-Palestine demo in central London. No one in the image relates to this article.

But he said these would be policed in a manner that would avoid clashes between the two sides.

Rishi Sunak also now said he has confidence in Met Police chief Rowley, but that work needs to be done to rebuild the trust of the Jewish community.

Home Secretary James Cleverly and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also issued similar statements backing Rowley in his job, but urging the Met to work closely with the community moving forwards.

New footage of the exchange with Falter published by Sky News on Sunday showed Falter telling officers he wanted to get to an area on the other side of where pro-Palestinian protesters were marching in London on 13 April.

During the exchange, an officer claims Falter is being “disingenuous” and was trying to “antagonise” others because he “took it upon himself” to deliberately walk “right into the middle” of the march.

Police officers do not let him pass and instead offer to escort him via another route, avoiding the protesters, so he will be “completely safe”.

2J5PHNE London, UK, 24th Apr, 2022. A counter-protest held by a small number of pro-Israel demonstrators walk with police protection close to the Al-Quds procession. The annual march held in solidarity of Palestinians, occupation of their land and the end of the Zionist apartheid regime returns after the pandemic. Credit: Eleventh Hour Photography/Alamy Live News

Defending his actions in several media interviews Falter told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “It’s not, for me, about these frontline officers.

“It’s about the decisions that have been made for six months now by Sir Mark Rowley, who has failed abjectly to stand up for Jewish Londoners and he seems to have thrown our rights, he’s curtailed our rights and our ability to walk around the street, in favour of letting these huge groups of protesters do what they want to do.”

Rowley and other senior police chiefs will meet with Jewish communal leaders again on Thursday.

It is understood there is concern about a plan by Falter to turn up at a forthcoming pro-Palestine demo, with his supporters.

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