Met Police rules out banning Britain First from Tower Hamlets

The unhappiness of a lot of residents is understandable
Thwarted: Mayor John Biggs has warned against ‘gutter of provocation’

The Met Police has derailed the hopes of Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs to ban Britain First from the borough.

Mayor Biggs had called on police leaders to consider bans and injunctions on the far-right group to send the message that it is “not welcome in any corner of our borough”.

The mayor met with Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons and Borough Commander Sue Williams this week to discuss “all options” following demonstrations by Britain First outside East London Mosque.

Mayor Biggs said: “I stand in solidarity with all residents of Tower Hamlets, and particularly our Muslim community, who feel threatened by these events.

“As mayor I am working with all of our different partners and services to address this threat properly and I have instructed our Chief Executive to determine what other actions are needed.”

But following a meeting of borough commanders on Tuesday, the police played down speculation that Britain First could be banned from the borough, saying that the police “do not have the legal power to ban a static protest”.

A police statement said: “Police have a duty to safeguard the right to protest, and balance that right against the rights of all those impacted by a protest.

“Officers are mindful of the responses that can be stirred when those with conflicting views come together in the same area or when protests are held at religious or culturally significant sites.”

A “solidarity demonstration” will be held outside the East London Mosque today after Friday prayers, where religious leaders from a number of religions will address protesters to condemn the actions of the far-right group.

But Britain First has vowed to return to the mosque for further demonstrations.

The group’s deputy leader, Jayda Fransen told Born Culture magazine: “We are definitely going back to East London Mosque. We have lots of activities planned for London in the future.”

Following the demonstration last week, Mayor Biggs visited a number of organisations including the London Muslim Centre to discuss options for how to oppose the presence of Britain First in Tower Hamlets.

He added: “We must be vigilant, and we must maintain the higher ground, away from the gutter of provocation where these groups belong.”

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