Met chief likely to survive calls to quit over officer’s ‘openly Jewish’ comment | Metropolitan police

The Metropolitan police commissioner is expected to survive calls for his resignation over a video of an officer suggesting that being “openly Jewish” was a provocation to pro-Palestinian protesters.

A government source said that the home secretary, James Cleverly, retained full confidence in Sir Mark Rowley, and sources inside the Met rejected any suggestion that he was considering his position.

Rowley faced calls to quit from the former home secretary Suella Braverman and the Campaign Against Antisemitism after its chief executive, Gideon Falter, was described by an officer as being “openly Jewish” during a pro-Palestinian demonstration earlier this month.

Another officer told Falter he would be arrested if he did not leave the vicinity of the protest, as his presence was “antagonising”.

But the row looks likely to continue, and Cleverly and the policing minister, Chris Philp, are expected to discuss it directly with Rowley.

More pro-Palestinian marches are planned, which may open the Met up to continued criticism that it is too soft on demonstrators. The force says it is acting in line with the law and is frustrated that ministers have failed to come up with any plans for tougher measures.

In footage of the incident, Falter appeared to be accompanied by a security guard as he was confronted by officers during the protest. He was asked by an officer what his intention was and how many people were in his group. He said: “I’m just waiting for a couple of people and then we are planning to carry on our way.”

Asked to confirm that footage showed Falter accompanied by a security guard, the CAA said it couldn’t comment.

On Sunday night, a government source said: “The PM has seen the footage and is as appalled as everyone else by the officer calling Mr Falter ‘openly Jewish’.

“He expects the Met commissioner to account for how it happened and [explain] what he will do to ensure officers do more to make Jewish communities in London feel safe – and Sadiq Khan to do his job in holding the Met to account.”

The row over the incident intensified on Friday when Rowley’s top aide, assistant commissioner Matt Twist, issued a statement on X which was intended as an apology but was characterised by critics as “victim-blaming”.

The Met deleted the original tweet and issued a new apology.

In an attempt to quell criticism from politicians and some in the Jewish community, the Met said Twist would meet Falter and personally apologise. Rowley will also meet key Jewish leaders on Monday.

The Met said because of a “need to engage better”, it would invite Jewish groups and other key figures to a planning meeting before next Saturday’s planned pro-Palestinian march.

It said: “Assistant commissioner Matt Twist has written to Gideon Falter to offer a private meeting to apologise to him personally and discuss what more the Met can do to ensure Jewish Londoners feel safe.

“We will also invite senior representatives from across London’s Jewish communities, officials from the mayor’s office of policing and crime, members of the House of Lords and selected media to an operational planning exercise.

“This would ordinarily be undertaken in private, but in recognition of the need to engage better and provide reassurance, we are inviting community leaders to join us.

“On Monday, Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley will also meet senior representatives from the Jewish community including from the London Jewish Forum and Community Security Trust.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has warned of a “grievous loss of confidence” among the Jewish community over the way pro-Palestinian demonstrations were being policed.

But a group representing Holocaust survivors, who attended the same pro-Palestinian demonstration as Falter, disputed his claim that the march was a no-go zone for Jews.

The group, which included Stephen Kapos, a Holocaust survivor from Budapest, and four other child survivors, said in an email: “Throughout [Falter’s] interactions with the police, we were standing only a few yards away from him, yet we experienced nothing but warmth and solidarity from the pro-Palestine demonstrators and not a hint of antisemitism.

“Our group was ‘openly Jewish’ in that we all wore placards saying that, as descendants of Holocaust survivors, we oppose the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

“Every major pro-Palestine demonstration in London has included a large Jewish bloc which has received nothing but support and warmth from their fellow demonstrators.”

Behind the Met’s deleted statement on X lay months of resentment within the force that Falter’s group or its allies were deliberately going to demonstrations in the hope of catching the Met out.

Met insiders were apparently dubious that Falter had been out merely for a stroll and just happened across the march. Falter has said he had been walking in the capital after attending synagogue and was not there to counter-protest.

Falter was filmed on the north and south sides of Aldwych in different encounters with officers. In one video on the north side, he said he wanted to “carry on my way” and was asked how many people were with him. He said he was waiting for a couple of friends.

In another, on the south side, he said he wanted to walk on the north side. An officer says he had already been seen “walking against the march”.

The commissioner of the Met is appointed by the home secretary, who by law has to give due regard to the views of the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Those who have been dismissed, Ian Blair and then Cressida Dick, were ousted when the mayor, who is also the police and crime commissioner for the Met, lost confidence in them.

Khan will meet Mark Rowley on Monday “to discuss community relations”, a spokesperson said. Sources let it be known that Rowley continues to enjoy the confidence of Khan.

Cleverly came into the Home Office promising a change in style from Braverman, vowing to praise the police in public and criticise it in private. The Met remains in special measures because of a string of failures and Rowley has vowed to reform it.

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