Every year, at the “Al Quds Day” march through London, supporters of Hizballah, the terrorist organisation which strives for the annihilation of Jews worldwide, fly Hezbollah’s flag.
Campaign Against Antisemitism 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: “We would like to know about the Al Quds Day march events on 10th July 2015 and 3rd July 2016. In particular we would like to know whether any arrests were made by the Metropolitan Police Service, whether any of those arrests resulted in charges and whether any arrests were related to offences under s.13 of the Terrorism Act 2000 or any other sections of the various Terrorism Acts. We would be grateful if you could please provide us with the following information, for each of the aforementioned Al Quds Day marches, separately: 1) the total number of arrests recorded; 2) the total number of arrests recorded which resulted in charges; 3) the total number of arrests recorded which were made under s.13 of the Terrorism Act 200; and 4) the total number of arrests recorded which were made under any sections of any of the Terrorism Acts.”
Despite the Freedom of Information Act requiring that the answer be provided within 20 working days, the Metropolitan Police Service has waited until two days after the march, nearly a month late, to tell us that they refuse to answer for “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”.
Giving its reasons, the Metropolitan Police Service wrote: “Confirmation or denial of whether or not any arrests were made could lead to the assumption that either policing resources deployed to this event was [sic] insufficient in relation to the number who attended these marches or that police were ever [sic] too lenient or strict with the participants. With regards to the latter, any disclosure of information, if held, which results in heightened tension from participants at a march and cause [sic] an adverse effect on officers [sic] safely policing demonstrations/marches cannot be in the public interest…Whilst not questioning the motives of the applicant to confirm or deny that arrest data were held could be harmful if the number of arrests were deemed to be low over the course of a number of years. [sic] This could lead to those who seek to cause disruption to infiltrate this march in order to further their cause. This could indicate relative vulnerabilities of policing provisions at these marches, which would provide those intent on committing criminal acts at the marches with valuable information as to the level of resistance they might expect to encounter. Individuals or groups could therefore gain an understanding of the capabilities of a Force [sic] so that potential vulnerabilities can be more easily identified.”
Essentially, the Metropolitan Police Service is arguing that telling us whether they arrested people at Al Quds Day marches in 2015 and 2016, and whether those arrests were related to terrorism charges, would expose the United Kingdom to national security threats and might lead to increased scrutiny of the policing of the Al Quds Day marches.
Apparently the Metropolitan Police Service 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”.
Our lawyers have already met to discuss the evidence gathered by the brave volunteers of our Demonstration and Event Monitoring Unit at the Al Quds Day march on Sunday. We will be taking legal action.