EDL March (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
October 25, 2012
Question By: 
Murad Qureshi
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 

Question

I will happily join Jennette on Saturday as well. Can I firstly welcome the MPS' support of the ban promoted by Waltham Forest, though it is very late in the day. Is the real issue here not essentially that the MPS still does not think the EDL is part of the far right? We had Sir Paul Stephenson in September 2009, the then-Police Commissioner, suggesting to the MPA that the EDL is not viewed as an extreme right-wing group in the accepted sense?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for EDL March (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for EDL March (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 

Jennette Arnold (AM): 'A charity'.

Murad Qureshi (AM): We have also had, last year, Adrian Tudway the head of the National Domestic Extremism Unit at Scotland Yard suggest in an exchange of emails that, in terms of the position with the EDL, the original stance stands. 'They are not an extreme right-wing group'. Does the MPS still hold that perspective, given what you know and we know?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I do not categorise groups like that. I know the challenges EDL brings to communities. I do not put people on a political spectrum. I am not qualified to do that. I know the challenge and threat that this particular group presents in terms of marching, of their assemblies. I am absolutely clear on that. This is another one where we tread that very fine line that exists in a democratic society between people's right to protest about a whole range of issues and people's right to counter-protest. It is not a very comfortable position sometimes to be in, but that is where we are. I do not think it is for the MPS to say someone is part of an extreme political group of whatever persuasion in terms of doing it. Actually, it is for us to say we understand the threat, the risk, and the harm these individuals can cause.

Murad Qureshi (AM): OK, well, I will have to ask that on another occasion to the present Police Commissioner and see if there has been a change in perspective, because I think it is certainly the case that a lot of people think that is the case.

Can I just come back to what you have said to Jennette about the static protests. Can you not use your powers under section 14 of the Public Order Act to insist that the EDL protest is at least held somewhere else away from the centre of Walthamstow.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I do not think you want me now to go into some of the tactics that potentially

Murad Qureshi (AM): I was not asking for you to go into tactics. It is operational. I understand this.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): No, sorry, it is not about that. I am very conscious that we are live. If we start talking about what may or may not happen

Murad Qureshi (AM): OK, I understand.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): No, I think it is an important point, sir, if I may. The range of tactics that may be available, I guarantee you by Saturday that people will frustrate them by doing something else. You will understand why I am not going to speculate.

Joanne McCartney (Chair): That is fine. Let us move on.

Murad Qureshi (AM): OK, can I just reinforce the point, something else. Tomorrow, you have the beginnings of a religious festivity, Eid.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Yes.

Murad Qureshi (AM): It is a clear attempt to intimidate families celebrating the festivity of sacrifices.

Jennette Arnold (AM): Absolutely, absolutely.

Murad Qureshi (AM): Subject to the weather, people particularly in the Pakistani community in Walthamstow will be happily moving around in the neighbourhood between friends and family, along with other communities in Walthamstow. I think you have to look seriously at why they are coming again, particularly after last weekend, when they tried to get into Whitechapel.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Rest assured, that is all part of the work that has gone on. I hope you will understand why I am not going to get into a debate about potential tactics.