Antisemitic abuse by scout on Remembrance Day

A teenage scout is to be interviewed by police about antisemitic abuse shouted at Jewish ex-servicemen during a Remembrance Day service in Romford, Essex.

Shouts of “here come the Jews, let’s kill the Jews” punctuated a march-past by hundreds of ex-soldiers, including a contingent of the Association of Jewish Ex-servicemen and Women.

The shouts came from a group of Romford Explorer scouts in uniform who were accompanied by adults

The teenager, who is believed to be between 14 and 16 years old, came forward on Wednesday after reports of the incident were condemned by senior personnel in the Scout Association.

The Metropolitan Police said it was investigating two allegations of racially aggravated harassment.

The incident happened during a service in Romford town centre. Guests, including Romford and District Synagogue minister, the Rev Lee Sunderland, heard the shouts as they waited for the soldiers to pass by. Rev Sunderland, the Scout group’s honorary chaplain, told a senior police officer who was nearby what he had heard and the officer spoke to the Scouts.

Rev Sunderland said he heard “here come the Jews, lets kill the Jews” being shouted.

He said: “This blew up because of when and where it happened and because it was persistent. They just didn’t shut up. After about the fourth time, I thought I’ve had enough of this.

“We were there not because we were victims of the Holocaust but because Jews had fought in World War II and many other wars. We also want to make sure this has a positive outcome involving education ."

Once the police investigation has been completed, the Scout Association said the teenager and his family will visit Rev Sunderland to apologise in person. The scout leadership team will work with Rev Sunderland and the Jewish community to provide a series of programme ideas to educate the Explorers through activities for all scouts in the unit designed to develop their understanding of the faiths and beliefs of others.

Dean Jefferys, county commissioner for Greater London North East Scouts, issued an immediate and unreserved apology.

Simon Carter, the Scout Association’s head of communications, said: “A teenage scout came forward on Wednesday to say that he had made the comments.

“If it had been an adult, he would have been shown the door immediately. The easy thing to do would be to show him the door. The right thing to do is to challenge the obnoxious views he has expressed and change them by putting him through a programme about faiths and beliefs.

“The Scout Association was shocked and appalled by what took place.”

Andrew Marks, chair of the National Jewish Scout Fellowship, said: “We have never experienced or come across any antisemitism in the scout movement and we have been shocked and astonished by this.

“We believe this is an isolated incident by a boy who has said some things which were totally deplorable and disgusting but there needs to be a modicum of understand that this is an isolated incident.”

Last updated: 3:57pm, November 13 2009