A Tube driver who led a chant of “free, free Palestine” on a London Underground train on Saturday has been suspended.
After around 100,000 protesters took part in a pro-Palestinian demonstration in central London, footage posted online by Open Democracy journalist Ruby Lott-Lavigna appeared to show the chant being led over the train’s speaker system.
Ms Lott-Lavigna quickly deleted the video but in other footage from the same train the driver of the packed Central Line service repeatedly said “free, free” to which the passengers responded “Palestine”.
In the middle of the chant he asked passengers: “Louder, please, louder”.
Before letting people off the carriage to join the protest, he finished: “Hope you all have a blessed day today and look after yourselves.”
The driver’s union ASLEF called police involvement in investigating the video a “ridiculous overreaction”.
Glynn Barton, TfL’s chief operating officer, said: “We have been urgently and thoroughly investigating the footage appearing to show a Tube driver misusing the PA system and leading chants on a Central Line train on Saturday.
“A driver has now been identified and suspended whilst we continue to fully investigate the incident in line with our policies and procedures.”
But Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s full-time organiser on London Underground, said: “We are aware that a Tube train driver has been suspended while an investigation takes place.
“The involvement of the police in this matter is a ridiculous overreaction to something that should clearly be dealt with internally by Transport for London in line with normal procedures.”
The chant was criticised by minister for London Paul Scully who said Tube staff should “focus on the day job” and warned against stoking tension in the capital.
The Israeli Embassy said: “It is deeply troubling to see such intolerance on London’s Tubes … public transport should be a place of safety and inclusivity for all.”
On Saturday British Transport Police Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan said the force was investigating and was “aware of footage circulating on social media which suggests chants are led by driver of a train in London earlier”.
Minister for London Paul Scully said staff should “focus on the day job” and warned against stoking tension in the capital following Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel two weeks ago, after footage of the chant circulated on social media on Saturday afternoon.