Mob must be punished, says Cameron - UK Politics - UK - The Independent

Tuition fees protest

Mob must be punished, says Cameron

David Cameron today demanded that tuition fee thugs face the "full force of the law" amid calls for an independent inquiry into the mob attack on the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

But the Prime Minister defended Scotland Yard's handling of the situation, insisting there was no excuse for the "appalling" violence and vandalism.



The son of Pink Floyd frontman Dave Gilmour has apologised after being identified as one of those who climbed on the Cenotaph, the nation's monument to its war dead, as thousands of youngsters vented their fury over MPs' decision to treble university fees to a maximum of £9,000 a year.



Police have so far arrested 33 people as a result of the disorder in central London that left dozens of officers and protesters injured. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched a probe into one incident which left 20-year-old student Alfie Meadows requiring brain surgery after allegedly being hit with a truncheon.



Mr Cameron warned that it was not possible to blame the distressing scenes on a small militant element when so many in the crowd were acting in an "absolutely feral way".



"The scenes people saw on their TV screens were completely unacceptable," he said. "I don't think we can go on saying a small minority were there. There were quite a lot of people who were hell bent on violence and destroying property.



"When people see flags being torn off the Cenotaph, when people are despoiling a statue of Winston Churchill, police officers being dragged off police horses and beaten.



"It is not acceptable, it is against the law to smash property, to behave in that way, to attack police officers, and I want to make sure that they feel the full force of the law."





Among the most shocking episodes was the attack on a Rolls-Royce carrying Charles and Camilla by a gang who smashed a window and threw paint while shouting "Off with their heads!".



A Clarence House spokesman refused to confirm reports that the duchess was poked with a stick through an open window, but stressed that the royal couple did not seek medical help.



Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said an investigation was being held into the security breach, and also said armed protection officers had shown "real restraint" not to open fire as the situation slipped out of control.



"I do think that the officers who were protecting their royal highnesses showed very real restraint - some of those officers were armed.



"Their priority was to get that car to the point of safety, which was the venue, and that was achieved, but it was a hugely shocking incident and there will be a full criminal investigation into it."



Asked whether royal protection officers were allowed to shoot protesters who posed a threat, Sir Paul replied: "I am telling you that there are armed officers who protect principals and they show enormous restraint in achieving that very difficult balance in our society."



Tory backbencher Mark Pritchard insisted there should be an independent probe into why the royal couple were exposed to such danger. "This was an incident that was so very serious - and could have been even more serious - that it should not be left to an internal Metropolitan Police inquiry," he said. "It's not rocket science to know that that part of London would at least be chock-a-block with displaced traffic."



The chaos came weeks after police were criticised for being ill-prepared when tuition fee demonstrators smashed up Conservative Party headquarters in Westminster. But the commissioner stressed that around 2,800 police officers had been deployed yesterday.



"But we were very, very stretched - this was a very large policing operation," he added.



"Whilst the majority did come to demonstrate peacefully, the minority of that majority was a significant number of people who came prepared for violence and clearly demonstrated that violence on police lines.



"We did everything we could to facilitate peaceful protest, everything we could to keep that calm, and the police lines were attacked."



Downing Street said the Prime Minister had "full confidence" in the police.



Charlie Gilmour, son of musician David, could face being questioned by police after he was photographed swinging from the Cenotaph. In a statement, the 20-year-old student expressed his "deepest apologies for the terrible insult to the thousands of people who died bravely for our country" and said he did not realise what the monument was.



"I feel nothing but shame," he added. "My intention was not to attack or defile the Cenotaph. Running along with a crowd of people who had just been violently repelled by the police, I got caught up in the spirit of the moment."



National Union of Students president Aaron Porter stressed that protests should be peaceful, but said young people were "engaging with the issues" over tuition fees.



"Peaceful protest is an integral part of our heritage and it is the responsibility of the police to help facilitate that," he said.



"Throughout this campaign, thousands of young people who have been in the past dismissed as politically apathetic have engaged with the issues and are seeking a way to express their opinions."



Another student leader, Mark Bergfeld of the Education Activist Network, claimed demonstrators suffered "police brutality" and "horrendous" conditions as they were herded and kept in one place for up to 10 hours.



News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Undergraduates will be able to study beatboxing and performance poetry at one of Europe’s leading conservatoires for the first time, after the Guildhall School of Music and Drama revealed plans for a “groundbreaking” degree course.

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week