Sir Mark Rowley: Calls for Met chief to go over threat to arrest ‘openly Jewish’ CAA head

Suella Braverman said the police chief should resign as row over policing of Gaza rallies escalates


'Openly Jewish' Gideon Falter was approached by a police officer last weekend and threatened with arrest

Former home secretary Suella Braverman has called for the resignation of the head of the Metropolitan Police Sir Mark Rowley after an officer threatened to arrest the chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism for being too close to a pro-Palestinian rally.

Gideon Falter, who was wearing a kippah and carrying a tallit bag after attending shul in central London last Saturday morning, was told by police that his “openly Jewish” appearance could antagonise demonstrators and he could be arrested for causing a breach of the peace.

But as apologies issued by the force have failed to quell the subsequent outcry over its actions, Braverman upped the pressure by writing in Sunday Telegraph that the Met Commissioner “must go” after “such a litany of failure”.

She said: “I’ve seen too much fear and even more favouritism in the policing of pro-Palestinian protests”.

Echoing the calls, Falter wrote in today’s Sunday Times: “The Met has dented the confidence of Jewish Londoners and for that reason we feel that Mark Rowley has to go. He’s lost control of the streets and the needs to either resign or be removed.

“It’s not just that central London is a ‘no-go zone’ for Jews, as has been said previously, but a police enforced Jew-free zone.”

Falter said that he had been with five other people, some of who were also wearing kippot, and when they were spotted, they had been called “Nazis” and “scum”: “There were people there who were expressing as loudly as they could how much they hated me for looking Jewish and not a single person was saying: ‘You shouldn’t do that’ or ‘I disapprove’.”

Other senior Conservatives criticised the Met’s handling of the incident with Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden telling the Telegraph that it was “hard to think of any other minority that would be treated as disrespectfully as Jews seem to be”.

Gary Mond, chair of the National Jewish Assembly, was quoted by the paper as saying, “The buck stops at the top and if Rowley is not prepared to properly police the demonstrations, he has to go and be replaced by someone who can.”

According to the BBC, a Downing Street source said that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had seen video footage of the incident and  was "appalled as everyone else by the officer calling Mr Falter 'openly Jewish'".

In an apology on Friday, the Met’s Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said the words “openly Jewish” had been “hugely regrettable” and “a poor choice”.

But when he suggested that it was “provocative” for those who opposed the views of marches to appear along the route and film themselves, the CAA hit back and criticised him for “victim-blaming”.

In a fresh police statement at the weekend, Sir Mark said: "Every member of the Met is determined to ensure that London is a city in which everyone feels safe.

"We absolutely understand how vulnerable Jewish and Muslim Londoners feel since the terrorist attacks on Israel.

"Some of our actions have increased this concern. I personally reiterate our apology from earlier this week.

"Today, as with every other day, our officers will continue to police with courage, empathy and impartiality.”

Sir Mark has agreed to meet representatives of the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and Community Security Trust next week with a Board spokesman highlighting the need start repairing a “grievous loss of confidence”..

While many “anti-Israel” marchers may have genuine concerns over Gaza, the spokesman said, “others have taken the opportunity to amplify hideous antisemitic conspiracy theories, while a number clearly wish for the complete destruction of the world’s only Jewish state.”

The Metropolitan Police had “made a series of high-profile errors in their responses to these demonstrations,” he added. “The entirely avoidable mistakes have had a devastating effect on the previously high level of trust held by the UK’s Jewish community in the police.”

Andrew Gilbert, co-chair of the London Jewish Forum, said, “Overall police have been incredibly supportive of the Jewish community and we must appreciated all they have done since October 7.”

Regarding the incident involving the head of the CAA, he said: “Police communication was inept and they do need to improve. But rather than attack them, the community are working with them. There were meetings on Friday and there will be on Monday.”

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