Boris Johnson accused of 'hyping up' the threat of violence at Margaret Thatcher's funeral

Organisers accuse mayor of using riots warning to provide excuse for pre-emptive arrests

London Mayor Boris Johnson has been accused of “hyping up” the possibility of violence related to the funeral of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, despite not being able to offer any evidence of a specific threat.

Speaking on a radio show, Mr Johnson warned that police were preparing to deal with “riots” during a party planned for today, as well as at the funeral itself.

But he was criticised by organisers of events planned to mark her death, who insisted they were planning peaceful demonstrations. Some said they believed the Mayor’s comments were deliberately designed to inspire fear and act as an excuse for pre-emptive arrests and the repression of any dissent.

Speaking on LBC, Mr Johnson said: “We live in a democracy where people are entitled to protest. They are entitled to have fun and do what they want. What they can’t do is, I think, is use the death of an elderly person to begin a riot or affray or that kind of thing. So we’re getting ready for all that. The police are obviously going to be making sure that if the people do break the law, they will be properly dealt with.”

A spokesman for Mr Johnson admitted the Mayor was not in possession of any specific evidence to back up his claim but said the comments were made because of the “strength of feeling” that had become apparent on both sides of the debate over Lady Thatcher’s legacy.

Ian Bone, whose now defunct organisation Class War originally called in 1994 for a party on the former PM’s death, said: “He is hyping up the riot line and it is a pre-emptive effort for Wednesday. He thinks that it will stop people who were planning a demonstration on the day of the funeral and will give the police a free hand to act at the party on Saturday,”

Mr Bone added he believed the antagonism might lead to clashes which could otherwise have been avoided. He said: “[If that happens] there will be a picture of someone hitting a police officer and Boris will say ‘I was right’.”

Dominic Francis, 25, used Facebook to invite more than 3,000 people to turn out next Wednesday and show their opposition to the state funding of the funeral. Some of those who said they would attend suggested turning their backs on the procession and, while he said no plans have yet been finalised, he insisted he wanted nothing but a peaceful demonstration. But he added he “fully expected to be pre-emptively arrested” because of the furore which has surrounded any planned dissent.

The Oxford Brookes student said: “We don’t plan to disrupt the service or the procession but we want to give a voice to the people who were made victims by Margaret Thatcher. I see Boris Johnson’s comments as being an attempt to bill us as violent thugs before we have even had a chance to protest. I don’t condone any violence.”

The Met Police said they were monitoring “suggested protests over this weekend. We will have a policing operation in place, as appropriate. All information will be kept under constant review”. But they could not say whether they had identified any specific threat to back up Mr Johnson’s claim.

And the force also had to deal with the resignation of an officer over “offensive” messages he allegedly posted about Lady Thatcher’s death. Sergeant Jeremy Scott is understood to have written on Twitter he hoped her death was “painful and degrading”. He was to be suspended but later resigned.  Met Police Commander Allan Gibson said: “This officer’s behaviour was unacceptable. It’s right he resigned.”

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform