Met Police face pressure over pro-Israel lobby influence on policing

  • Post last modified:March 22, 2024
  • Reading time:4 mins read

A group of civil society organisations are seeking assurances from the Met Police that the force will take a more common sense and less heavy-handed approach to pro-Palestine demonstrations in the capital. It’s called out what it says is the influence of “the media, government and pro-Israel lobby” in cops making decisions.

The Met: performing “politicised policing”?

In a joint letter to Met chief Sir Mark Rowley, the 14 organisations question the politicised way in which protests are being handled which they say risks eroding public confidence in the police. It says:

In view of the recent dismissal of a prosecution against a pro-Palestine protestor we the undersigned are seeking reassurances that the Metropolitan Police will relent on its heavy-handed and highly politicised policing of demonstrations against the genocide in Gaza.

The letter comes after the recent dismissal of a prosecution against a pro-Palestine protestor who was arrested and charged with failing to comply with a requirement to remove a face covering at a protest on 14 October 2023.

However, on 28 February, the City of London Magistrate’s Court dismissed the case against Ibrahim Hlaiyil, 38, saying there was no evidence to support a prosecution. The trial is summarised here. As the letter noted:

In dismissing the charge, the judge said: “There is no evidence to prove the essential element of the charge.” The judge stated that the arresting officer seemed to have taken the view that he was able to arrest anyone who refused to take off their face mask at the protest.

The law actually only allows for arrest if a person is wearing a face covering for the purpose of concealing their identity, something that the police did not argue in court.

Influenced by media, politicians, and the “pro-Israel lobby”

The Met Police publicised and portrayed this arrest as part of a crackdown on violent protesters. However, the dismissal of the charge against Hlaiyil highlights both the heavy-handed and politicised way in which pro-Palestine protests are being policed in the capital.

As the letter states:

It also highlights a lack of operational independence and a propensity to be influenced by the highly inflammatory and politicised representation of these demonstrations by their detractors in the media, government and pro-Israel lobby.

The full text of the letter can be read here.

The signatories are:

  • Islamic Human Rights Commission.
  • 5 Pillars.
  • Black Activists Rising Against Cuts.
  • Black Lives Matter Coalition UK.
  • Convivencia Alliance.
  • Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
  • InMinds Human Rights Group.
  • Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – UK.
  • Jewish Network for Palestine.
  • Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK.
  • Peacemaker Trust.
  • Scotland Against Criminalising Communities.
  • Spinwatch/Public Interest Investigations.
  • The Campaign Against Misrepresentation in Public Affairs, Information and the News (CAMPAIN).

Featured image via Sir Mark Rowley – LinkedIn

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