Johnny Mercer calls on police to stop protesters climbing war memorials

James Cleverly discusses protester climbing on war memorial

Protesters “clambering” on war memorials should be arrested for “dishonouring our war dead”, a top Tory has said.

Johnny Mercer, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, has railed against a recent trend of activists climbing on commemorative monuments and statues commemorating former servicemen and women.

The last few weeks have seen public displays of solidarity with Palestinian civilians via countrywide marches, with some protesters climbing on and draping the nation’s flag over memorials.

The scenes – most of which have been captured in London – have prompted outrage with Conservative MPs universally condemning what they described as acts of vandalism.

In a statement posted on social media, Mr Mercer has pledged to toughen existing laws to ensure people “dishonouring” the dead were “in handcuffs”.

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Posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, today, the minister sympathised with police “doing a difficult job” while dealing with protesters.

But he also appeared to criticise when he said the Met Police “should be” using their powers to quash protesters climbing on memorials.

He said: “Police officers on our streets are doing a difficult job with mobs and protesters, and have my backing.

“But we’ve got to stop thugs clambering over war memorials.”

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“The Met has a lot of powers they can use, and should be using, and I’ll work with colleagues to toughen the law.

“Let’s see these thugs dishonouring our war dead in handcuffs.”

Mr Mercer’s statement followed one from the Met Police earlier today in which the force clarified there were no laws explicitly preventing people from climbing on memorials.

The latest such incident on Tuesday, November 14, saw a man clad in a Palestinian flag climbing on the Royal Artillery Memorial in Hyde Park, which commemorates nearly 50,000 soldiers from the unit killed in World War One.

Police officers were criticised for not intervening, and, in a statement, the Met said it was “unacceptable” to “climb on or otherwise disrespect a war memorial”.

The statement added: “While officers were on the scene quickly, we regret they were not there quickly enough to prevent the protesters accessing the memorial.

“There is no law explicitly making it illegal to climb on a memorial so officers cannot automatically arrest, but they can intervene and make it clear the behaviour isn’t acceptable.

“The videos shared online show them doing that.”

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