Boycott protests 'ignored'

Police have been criticised for going soft on anti-Israel boycotters in Manchester in order to reduce confrontation.

City councillors want to move a snowballing protest away from the Kedem Israeli cosmetics store, expecting to draw thousands this weekend.

Nine boycotters have been arrested in a fierce three-week daily stand-off, including those making Nazi salutes and antisemitic taunts. Supporters have rebutted claims of a boycott of a Jewish shop.

Police officers were filmed taking no action against hundreds of boycotters who illegally blocked the city centre's equivalent of Oxford Street on Saturday.

Some protesters taunted staff and customers with accusations of "baby murderers", while other major retailers nearby were forced to close.

Jonathan Turner, UK Lawyers for Israel chair, said the law obligates police action: "Intimidation of people going into shops is a criminal offence and carries potential civil liability. Police have a legal obligation to stop it."

In a statement Greater Manchester Police said it was balancing “not seeking to do anything police-wise that would further antagonise those protesting and actually taking action when a criminal offence is committed.”

Chief constable Sir Peter Fahy said officers would “fully investigate law breaches”, but added: “I would say that experience has taught us that the best way to manage demonstrations is through negotiation and dialogue with the protestors.”

Last updated: 5:13pm, August 7 2014