Met chief’s job not at risk despite calls to resign over Gaza protests

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s job is not under threat, Government sources have insisted as Britain’s most senior police officer came under pressure to resign.

Sir Mark Rowley has faced calls to quit over his force’s handling of pro-Palestinian protests after an officer was filmed describing an antisemitism campaigner as “openly Jewish”.

Video footage showed another officer telling Gideon Falter, the chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), he would be arrested if he did not leave the vicinity of a Gaza protest in central London as his presence was “antagonising”.

The force apologised, before being forced to issue another statement apologising for its first apology, which had suggested opponents of pro-Palestinian marches “must know that their presence is provocative”.

Both Mr Falter and former home secretary Suella Braverman called for Sir Mark to go, accusing him of “emboldening” antisemites by failing to curtail the now regular marches through the capital.

While Government sources have expressed condemnation of the incident involving Mr Falter, they have been keen to stress that nobody in Government is threatening Sir Mark’s position.

One 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 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.”

Eid in the Square 2024
The Government has said Mayor of London Sadiq Khan should hold Sir Mark Rowley to account for his force’s actions (Yui Mok/PA)

Sir Mark is expected to meet Home Secretary James Cleverly next week to discuss the incident.

Both Mr Cleverly and Mr Khan, the Mayor of London, have responsibility for holding the commissioner to account, although the mayor is the one tasked with setting the strategic direction for policing in London.

A spokesman for Mr Khan said the Met’s handling of the incident was “concerning” and its initial statement had been “insensitive and wrong”.

The spokesman added: “The Met have an extremely difficult job – particularly so when it comes to operational decisions taken while policing marches.

“But in the end the Met must have the confidence of the communities they serve and it is right that they have apologised for the way the incident was handled and their original public response.”

Sir Mark said: “Every member of the Met is determined to ensure that London is a city in which everyone feels safe.

“We absolutely understand how vulnerable Jewish and Muslim Londoners feel since the terrorist attacks on Israel.

“Some of our actions have increased this concern. I personally reiterate our apology from earlier this week.

“Today, as with every other day, our officers will continue to police with courage, empathy and impartiality.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We welcome the Met Police’s apology, and recognise the complexities of policing fast-moving public protests, but simply being Jewish – or of any other race or religion – should never be seen as provocative.

“Anyone of any religion should be free to go about their lives and feel safe doing so.”