London Assembly Members have attacked the Metropolitan Police for doing “Tony Blair’s bidding” after revelations that they sent 78 officers and spent £7,500 removing banners and placards belonging to the anti-war campaigner Brian Haw.
The figures were revealed by Sir Ian Blair earlier today (25th May 2006) at a meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA).
Richard Barnes, London Assembly Conservative Policing Spokesman, suggested the police action was “excessive given the non-violent nature of the protest”.
In a statement issued today Mr Barnes says “The rights and wrongs of Brian Haw’s protest are debatable but the excessive police presence on the day is not.”
“How on earth could Sir Ian Blair think that a pacifist like Mr Haw could occupy the time of 78 police officers” adding that he sees this as “another example of the met leadership diverting resources away from ordinary Londoners to do Tony Blair’s bidding.”
The attack has been echoed by other parties on the Assembly. Jenny Jones, Green Party AM called the operation “a disaster in terms of money spent and value for money.”
Damien Hockney, from the One London Group, warned that the police actions “has been interpreted around the world that Britain is suppressing dissent by people who are opposed to the Iraq war.”
Speaking for the Liberal Democrats Lord Tope said the police had acted “hugely out of proportion”.