Following Campaign Against Antisemitism and MP’s discussions with Metropolitan Police Service and Home Office, demonstrators allegedly flying Hezbollah flags have been charged. The Metropolitan Police Service has acted to arrest anti-Israel demonstrators who allegedly flew Hezbollah flags outside Downing Street on 9th September, following discussions with Campaign Against Antisemitism and also Matthew Offord MP.
On 9th September, anti-Israel protesters and pro-Israel protesters confronted each other outside Downing Street. Several antisemitic incidents took place which CAA is continuing to discuss with the police.
Of major concern, was the failure of the police to take any action against anti-Israel demonstrators flying Hezbollah flags. Section 13(1)(b) of the Terrorism Act says that “A person in a public place commits an offence if he wears, carries or displays an article, in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that he is a member or supporter of a proscribed [terrorist] organisation.”
Protesters from the Zionist Federation, Sussex Friends of Israel and Israel Advocacy Movement, were told however that the Hezbollah flags were not exactly faithful to the design of the original Hezbollah flag and therefore action would not be taken.
CAA raised this with senior police officers, submitted a Freedom of Information request seeking clarity on the Metropolitan Police Service’s stance on flying terrorist flags and also circulated a video. We also raised this with the Home Office whose official guidance confirms the interpretation of section 13 of the Terrorism Act.
We have long been concerned by policing policy on the flying of terrorist flags, with police having failed to take action on other occasions, such as a man parading an ISIS flag outside Parliament and a vehicle emblazoned with the Hezbollah logo and a Syrian flag. In both cases the Metropolitan Police Service is quoted as saying: “Wearing, carrying or displaying of an emblem or flag, by itself, is not an offence unless; the way in which, or the circumstance in which, the emblem is worn, carried or displayed is such as to cause reasonable suspicion that the person is a supporter or member of a proscribed organisation.”
We are therefore pleased to confirm that following our discussions and those of Matthew Offord MP, the Metropolitan Police Service has decided to charge two individuals under section 13 of the Terrorism Act.