Police intervene as UK Labor leader harassed by protesters

Britain’s Labor Party leader Keir Starmer arrives for the memorial service for MP David Amess, who was stabbed to death during a meeting with constituents, at Westminster Cathedral in London, Britain, on 23 November 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File photo

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LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) – The leader of Britain’s opposition Labor Party, Keir Starmer, was forced into a police car on Monday after being confronted by angry protesters, an incident some lawmakers have linked to claims false statements about him from Prime Minister Boris. Johnson.

Johnson described the incident near parliament in central London as “absolutely disgraceful” and “completely unacceptable”.

It comes as Johnson attempts to reinstate his administration in the face of a series of scandals, including booze-fueled parties at his Downing Street office and residence during the coronavirus lockdowns, that have put his position in jeopardy.

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Images on social media showed Starmer, 59, surrounded by a crowd that had attended a COVID-19 vaccination demonstration.

Before being escorted to a police car, some of the protesters can be heard shouting “Traitor!” and “Were you protecting Jimmy Savile?” to the.

That appeared to be a reference to a charge made in parliament by Johnson that Starmer had failed to prosecute Savile, one of Britain’s most notorious sex offenders, during his time as director of public prosecution.

“It’s no surprise that the conspiracy theorist thugs who harassed @Keir_Starmer and I repeated the insults we heard from @BorisJohnson last week in the dispatch box,” David Lammy, a Labor Party foreign affairs spokesman who had said on Twitter. Been with Starmer.

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Johnson has been widely criticized for the barb on Savile, including by some lawmakers from his own Conservative Party, while Starmer accused him of “echoing the conspiracy theories of violent fascists”.

Although Johnson later attempted to clarify his comments, he refused to apologize or withdraw them, prompting his chief policy officer, Munira Mirza, one of his closest aides, to resign from her job last Thursday. She called the comments an “inappropriate and partisan reference to a horrendous case of child sexual abuse.”

Responding to Monday’s incident, Johnson said on Twitter: “The behavior directed at the Leader of the Opposition tonight is absolutely disgraceful. All forms of harassment of our elected representatives are completely unacceptable.”

However, some Conservatives said the prime minister needed to respond more.

“What happened to Keir Starmer tonight outside parliament is appalling,” lawmaker Julian Smith said on Twitter. “It’s really important for our democracy and for his safety that the false insults that Savile made against him be completely withdrawn.”

Savile, a BBC television and radio presenter who was never prosecuted despite a series of police investigations, died in 2011, aged 84. After his death, it was revealed that he had abused hundreds of victims. Starmer headed the Crown Prosecution Service at a time when Savile was under investigation, but CPS said Starmer had no direct role in the decision not to prosecute Savile. Starmer later issued an apology for CPS’s failures.

The Starmer incident also follows growing concern for the safety of politicians following the murder of David Amess, who was stabbed to death at a public meeting last October, the second lawmaker to be killed in five years.

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Eleanor Laing, the deputy speaker of the House of Commons, said Starmer and Lammy had been “assaulted outside parliament”. Home Secretary Priti Patel called the scenes “completely unacceptable” and said she was in contact with police.

In a statement, police said “a man who had been surrounded by a group of protesters…was removed from the scene by a police car,” and that two people had been arrested after a cone of traffic to an officer.

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Information from Michael Holden; edited by jonathan oatis

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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