Police and council in talks over ban on English Defence League march through Tower Hamlets

Talks were are still taking place over whether the Metropolitan Police will seek a ban on the planned EDL march through Tower Hamlets next month.

Luftur Rahman, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, has threatened to take legal action to force the Met to seek a ban of the march, planned for September 3, in view of the potential threat to public order.

However the Monday night deadline set by the Mayor passed without signs of developments from any of the parties involved.  Rumours circulating on Twitter on Monday that the march had been banned were denied by all sides.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, can only ban the march on the request of the police. A petition calling for a ban and containing the signatures of 25,000 people has already been presented to Scotland Yard.

A spokesman for Tower Hamlets Council said on Tuesday: ‘’Discussions are still taking place with the local police over the next steps. We are aware of the statements by the Mayor but at the present time we have nothing further to add.’’

The Home Office said it had nothing to add to earlier statements saying that it had not received any representations from the police.

Rahman said on Friday: “I will instruct lawyers on Monday to go to the High Court and seek injunctive relief if the Met Police fail to act”. Rahman said he was determined that the EDL march should be stopped because it will “divide the community”.

He said: “The EDL just wants images of our young people fighting on the streets to show that multi-cultural Britain doesn’t work – but we stand united in the East End against hatred and racism.”

The council has already written to the Metropolitan Police asking them to call on May to ban the march under the Public Order Act. There is deep concern in the area about the possible consequences of an EDL demonstration.

Some local activists are concerned that the ban would be counter productive. Neil Roberts points out on Facebook: “Even if they get their police ban, EDL will still be allowed to hold a static protest, and will be escorted to it by police. And we know from past experience that they are very likely to break out from their protest to cause mayhem and racist violence on the streets. If EDL are banned from marching, so will local anti fascist protesters be.”

The organisation, Unite Against Fascism state on their website that there are already  coaches booked from 30 towns outside  London to come to East London on the day to oppose the EDL.

Local Anarchist groups (under the banner posted above this story) are warning the EDL: “Step into a Lion’s den and you will be torn apart”.

Rahman told reporters yesterday: “Fear and anxiety grows every day that passes without action from the police or Home Secretary. If no action is taken, we have no option but to protect our residents and take the police and Home Secretary to court.”

For more on this story see below and see also Dave Hills blog in the Guardian.

Leave a Reply