David Cameron cancels holiday as London descends into chaos

David Cameron cancels holiday as London descends into chaos

By Ian Dunt

David Cameron has cancelled his holiday and is returning to the UK, as the disorder in London reaches fever pitch.

The decision came after hours of mounting criticism, as various parts of the capital saw running battles, looting and arson.

Mr Cameron is flying back to London tonight and chairing a meeting of Cobra, the emergency committee.

The news comes after London mayor Boris Johnson finally capitulated to criticism and agreed to return from his holiday tomorrow morning.

London MPs took to the airwaves to tell Londoners to stay indoors, as the disorder reached incredible levels.

Many observers called for parliament to be recalled.

"If ever there was a time to recall parliament, this is it," Labour MP Tom Watson said.

"The decent will be frightened and appalled. They need UK leaders united and home."

There were even signs the disorder may have spread to other major cities, with reports coming in of extensive violence in Birmingham.

Police fought pitched battles with youths in Hackney, after a reported attempt to stop-and-search two men prompted a major incident outside the Old Town Hall.

Police cleared Mare Street as running battles continued down the Bethnal Green end of the area.

In Lewisham, a number of fires were started, with one in particular testing the abilities of firemen. None were of the level seen on Saturday night in Tottenham.

Disturbances were also reported in Peckham, while shopkeepers in Islington, Stoke Newington and Wood Green closed the shutters on their properties.

Police instigated Section 60 stop and search powers across Lambeth, Haringey, Enfield and Waltham Forest.

Meanwhile, the police admitted they had failed to inform the parents of Mark Duggan of his death, after he was shot following a police operation last week.

"We are very sorry for the distress that has been caused to the family of Mark Duggan, especially because of the way in which his parents became aware of his death," a spokesperson said.

"Although immediate members of his family were told of Mr Duggan's death, we accept that we did not inform his parents and it is clear that there are lessons that can be learned both by the MPS [Met] and the IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission] in this case."

Media sources indicate that two bullets were fired during the incident – one killed Mr Duggan and the other hit another police officer's radio. Police have never claimed they were fired upon first.

It is unclear at the moment to what extent the current disorder is caused by the original incident with Mr Duggan. Many commentators believe the current disorder reflects a broader anger and alienation which is ultimately disconnected from the incident with Mr Duggan.

Speaking after surveying the damage in Tottenham with local MP David Lammy today, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “More than anything – more than the smashed up buildings, the empty shops, the sight of so many police on the streets – I was struck by the determination of local people to stand together against the violence."

The police reported today that two officers were struck a car as they responded to looting last night, in what the Met is treating as a deliberate hit-and-run incident.

"These officers were responding to reports of looting at the nearby shop. They were responding, like the rest of their colleagues last night, to try and protect Londoners and their property," said deputy assistant commissioner Steve Kavanagh.

"The level of violence directed at officers was appalling and officers being, what appears to be, deliberately driven at will no doubt shock the vast majority of Londoners who want to work with us to track these criminals down and bring them to justice."

The two officers were responding to reports of looting at a shop in east London in the early hours of this morning when the hit-and-run took place.

Both were taken to hospital, one with minor neck injuries and the other with leg injuries. Both have subsequently been discharged.