My brush with bus bigot – what happened next


Earlier this week I wrote a story detailing my encounter with a man spouting antisemitic abuse on a packed bus from Golders Green.

I explained how I reported the incident as it was happening and was told by police that they would not attend the scene unless the driver stopped the bus. The driver refused.

As a result a crime went unpunished and I was left with the impression that the authorities could not care less about antisemitism.

Since my story was posted on the JC’s website, however, police have been falling over themselves to apologise and promise to investigate the incident, with officers from three different units contacting me.

One inspector, Graham Skitt, of the Metropolitan Police’s safer transport team said the police’s failure to respond to my 999 call was the result of “a comedy of errors”.

He explained that officers had in fact been dispatched but they had been given the wrong information and could not locate the bus.

“Unfortunately the person you reported the crime to recorded the bus as travelling in the other direction,” he said.

“The police couldn’t find the bus and because the driver didn’t hit his code red alert we were unable to attend the scene.

“If he had we would have been able to find you. I can only apologise.”

He assured me that the mistakes would be looked into, and that the police were in the process of acquiring CCTV footage of the man from the bus in the hope of identifying him.

Meanwhile I complained to Transport for London.

They told me they were aware of the incident, having received calls from members of the public, concerned about why a driver failed to stop a bus when one of his passengers was making a 999 call.

But TFL warned that it could take up to 10 days for my complaint to be dealt with.

Ten days seemed a little long, especially as I had supplied them with photo evidence, the bus’s number plate and the driver’s number.

Later in the day I was emailed by Steve Burton, TfL’s director of enforcement and on-street operations.

He wanted to assure me “all of our customers have the right to use our services without fear of being abused and offensive behaviour is completely unacceptable.”

He promised that TFL would “work with the police to investigate these claims”.

Meanwhile I have been inundated with support online by people horrified at what I witnessed. Some have even offered legal advice.

A Facebook group dedicated to identifying the abuser was set up by someone who read my tweets.

Jonathan Arkush, vice president of the British Board of Deputies, told me he has written to Chief Superintendent Adrian Usher, senior police officer in the borough of Barnet, demanding the incident be investigated.

He said: “Antisemitism, like all forms of racism, is criminal and intolerable, and anyone who thinks they can mouth antisemitic abuse and threats should feel the full force of the law.”

Jonathan Sacerdoti, spokesman for the Campaign Against Antisemitism, phoned and emailed.

He told me:“Racism against Jews in public must be treated with zero tolerance. This raises serious questions about the conduct of the bus driver and the police. They must now investigate and follow this up with some urgency.

“Transport staff and police need urgent and comprehensive training and education to ensure they do not react more leniently in cases of antisemitic abuse than they do to any other form racism.”

And I couldn’t agree more.

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