After the Metropolitan Police Service refused to answer questions from Campaign Against Antisemitism about the pro-pro-Hizballah “Al Quds Day” march, their flimsy attempt to hide their record from scrutiny has been laid bare.
The Metropolitan Police Service apparently does not consider allowing hundreds of supporters of terrorist group Hizballah to parade through our capital to be in any way prejudicial to “national security”, but it was for “national security” reasons that the police force declined to answer questions from Campaign Against Antisemitism.
We began work to try to prevent the flying of the genocidal terrorist organisation’s flag months ago. Metropolitan Police Service officers informally gave us conflicting accounts, telling us that nobody had been arrested at previous Al Quds marches, or that officers had gathered evidence at the marches and then made arrests later. We decided to find out exactly what had happened to people flying the flag of Hizballah, on the record.
On 26th April, our Scrutiny Unit filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, asking whether they arrested people at Al Quds Day marches in 2015 and 2016, and whether those arrests were related to terrorism charges
Despite the Freedom of Information Act requiring that the answer be provided within 20 working days, the Metropolitan Police Service waited until two days after the march, nearly a month late, to tell us that they refused to answer on various spurious grounds, including “national security” reasons. The police force also claimed that answering would “be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime [or] the apprehension or prosecution of offenders”.
Whilst we appealed the decision to decline to answer our questions, we also asked London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore to put our questions to the Mayor of London. Whilst the Metropolitan Police Service spared no excuse in trying to avoid answering our questions, which would have meant telling us that in the past two years it has failed to arrest any of the Hizballah supporters marching through London, the Mayor of London was perfectly direct.
In written answers to Mr Dismore, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan revealed that the Metropolitan Police Service made no arrests over flying the Hizballah flag during the “Al Quds Day” marches in 2015 and 2016, as we suspected.
It is extremely worrying that no arrests have been made for showing brazen support for an international terrorist group in the past two years, and it is outrageous that the Metropolitan Police Service has sought to conceal its record.
We continue to work with lawyer on our next steps following the march.