Met Police slammed after anti-Israel protesters allowed to climb war memorial

The force insisted no protesters were breaking the law for scaling the Royal Artillery Memorial in Hyde Park Corner


The Metropolitan Police is facing questions after anti-Israel protesters climbed over a war memorial while officers stood by and watched.

Members of a breakaway group scaled the Royal Artillery Memorial on Wednesday night after a protest demanding a ceasefire outside Parliament.

Footage shows a group of demonstrators clambering over the memorial at Hyde Park Corner.

Police officers appeared to simply watch on despite a dispersal order being in place across parts of central London from 8pm on Wednesday to 2am on Thursday.

Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said the move by demonstrators was "unfortunate" and "inflammatory in certain ways" but not against the law.

Police must be able to enforce the law impartially rather than "pandering to public opinion," he told an Institute for Government event on Thursday.

Asked about the police response, Sir Mark said: "What the officer didn't do last night was make up a law that it's illegal to do something and do an arrest which would have been illegal, clearly."

He defended the actions of officers on the ground, describing them as "sensible" in the circumstances, adding: "The officers intervened, as officers often are doing, to try and de-escalate risk of conflict, even when there isn't explicit power to do it."

Downing Street suggested police could be given new powers to protect war memorials following the disorder on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "It's an affront to our armed forces, it goes against our British values, it's not acceptable.

"We will look at what further measures are needed so that the police can have confidence in taking action on this.

"We do believe there are extensive powers available to them but the public will have been shocked and I'm sure appalled by what they saw."

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