Groups urge Met to stop “politicised” policing of pro-Palestine demos

Groups urge Met to stop “politicised” policing of pro-Palestine demos

Sir Mark Rowley

Metropolitan Police Commissioner

New Scotland Yard,

8-10, Broadway,




20th March 2024


Dear Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley,


In view of the recent dismissal of a prosecution against a pro-Palestine protestor we the undersigned are seeking reassurances that the Metropolitan Police will relent on its heavy-handed and highly politicised policing of demonstrations against the genocide in Gaza.

Ibrahim Hlaiyil, 38, was charged with failing to comply with a requirement to remove a face covering, under Section 60aa of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act after being arrested at a protest on October 14, 2023.

On 28 Feb this year, the City of London Magistrate’s Court dismissed the case against him. In dismissing the charge, the judge said: “There is no evidence to prove the essential element of the charge.” The judge stated that the arresting officer seemed to have taken the view that he was able to arrest anyone who refused to take off their face mask at the protest. The law actually only allows for arrest if a person is wearing a face covering for the purpose of concealing their identity, something that the police did not argue in court.

The trial is summarised here.

The police publicised and portrayed this arrest as part of a crackdown on violent protesters. However, it has now come to light that they lacked a valid basis for the arrest.

The arrest of Mr Hlaiyil and the dismissal of the charge against him speaks to the heavy-handed way in which pro-Palestine protests are being policed in the capital. It also highlights a lack of operational independence and a propensity to be influenced by the highly inflammatory and politicised representation of these demonstrations by their detractors in the media, government and pro-Israel lobby.

IHRC, among other organisations, has previously questioned the role being played by the Home Secretary’s two Special Lead Advisors for Hate Crime and Media and Communications who have been given unprecedented access to Lambeth’s Special Operations Room.

These Special Advisors have had weekly access to the Special Operations Room, where senior members of the Metropolitan Police’s leadership monitor pro-Palestine protests and issue commands to officers on the ground, share intelligence and make decisions over whether to proceed to arrest.

We have also highlighted the provision of a dedicated desk inside the Special Operations Building to senior prosecution lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service to work from during pro-Palestine protests.

The front-loading of the charging and prosecution process gives rise to serious concerns about political influence in the Met’s operational decision-making, as does the presence of CPS lawyers in the building.

In view of the judgement, can we be assured that the police will be taking a common-sense and apolitical approach to future protests, which would involve, inter alia, not bowing to media and political pressure to apply prejudicial interpretations to actions and statements that are part and parcel of peaceful public protests.

Failure to do so will severely erode trust in the police among the general public.

Signed by


Islamic Human Rights Commission

5 Pillars

Black Activists Rising Against Cuts

Black Lives Matter Coalition UK

Convivencia Alliance

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

InMinds Human Rights Group

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – UK

Jewish Network for Palestine

Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK

Peacemaker Trust

Scotland Against Criminalising Communities

Spinwatch/Public Interest Investigations

the Campaign Against Misrepresentation in Public Affairs, Information and the News (CAMPAIN)

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