The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, has threatened legal action over the Metropolitan Police’s decision so far not to ban the planned march by the English Defence League (EDL) through the borough next Saturday.
The police have confirmed they are in negotiations with the EDL organisers and opposition groups over the planned march. A police application to the Home Secretary is needed for the march to be banned.
Rahman said: “I’m deeply disappointed that the police and the home secretary have failed to act, despite my formally requesting them to do so. Clearly they are not on the same page as the scores of prominent national and local figures who joined me in calling for a ban.”
“I call upon them to see sense, but in the absence of an adequate response I intend to take this matter to the High Court.”
Rahman has demanded an urgent meeting with the Home Secretary Teresa May and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe.
A pre-action letter was issued by the council last Friday, which indicated a Judicial Review of the police’s decision will be sought from the High Court unless the police apply for a ban under the Public Order Act.
Earlier in August the Mayor’s office sent an open letter calling on the Home Secretary to ban the planned march which was signed by several political figures including Ken Livingstone and Keith Vaz.
On social media, the leader of EDL, Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, has suggested that EDL members will gather in Tower Hamlets even if there was a ban. Anti-fascist campaigners have also said they will produce a counter-demonstration.
Update: Teresa May has refused to meet Rahman, making the possibility of the march going ahead increasingly likely. The Home Office would technically need a application from Scotland Yard in order to ban the march.
“We will assess the available intelligence and develop the most proportionate and lawful response,” a Scotland Yard spokesperson said. “Given the dynamic nature of such events, decisions must be taken by the operational commands at the most appropriate time.”
The Mayor’s office has said a petition against the march has been now signed by 10,000 people.