Current extremism law is ‘fit for purpose’ despite Met’s soft touch policing

Science Secretary on policing of Palestine protests

Science and Tech Secretary Michelle Donelan has defended the UK’s current laws around extremism, despite reports the Government is considering a further crackdown.

The defence comes amid continuing concerns that the Met is allowing radical protestors to get away with extremist chants and statements at the now-weekly pro-Palestine rallies in London.

Last week the force defended the right of protestors to chant in favour of “jihad”.

Today Ms Donelan said there are already adequate laws in place, and they are “fit for purpose”.

She said: “We do have the Terrorism Act, the Public Order Act, that the police can deploy in these types of circumstances where people are actively promoting a terrorist organisation or inciting hatred and violence, and we’ve seen some of that happen, we’ve seen arrests taking place.”

READ MORE: Call to act as protesters shout ‘Allahu Akbar’ and praise Hamas ‘heroism’

She said “everything is always kept under constant review”, but there is no formal review of extremism law at present.

The top minister warned the police that they need to enforce the law properly, and conceded that the government may look at the current definition of ‘extremism’ in the coming weeks if it appears it’s not good enough.

“Of course we’d take further action, but we do strongly believe that the current law is fit for purpose”.

She added: “We cannot have a situation where people are protesting in a way that is aggravating violence, inciting hatred or promoting terrorism, now at the same time we 100 per cent respect the right to protest”.

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This morning the Sunday Telegraph said Michael Gove and Suella Braverman have ordered a crackdown on extremism amid warnings that Britain has become a “permissive environment” for anti-Jewish hate.

They report that civil servants in the Department for Communities are already drawing up a new “official definition of terrorism”.

The move could reportedly see Whitehall, councils and the police cutting off funding to charities and mosques whose leaders or guest speakers have voiced hateful views.

Current terror laws have been in place since 2011, however the Home Secretary could expand it to invoice groups and individuals who help to “create a climate conducive to terrorism, hate crime and other violence”.

The current definition says extremism is “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.

Ms Donelan cited examples of pro-Palestinian protestors “holding up placards” showing drawings or graphics of Hamas paragliders, saying they incite “violence and terrorism”.

“It is something the police should be looking at… it does strike me as concerning that these kind of flare-ups in society could then promote further violence and tensions which could produce dangerous results for the rest of society”.

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