Keir Starmer bundled into police car after being swarmed by protesters shouting abuse and Savile slurs

Mob were heard shouting ‘traitor’ and ‘Jimmy Savile’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Monday 07 February 2022 21:43 GMT
Keir Starmer bundled into police car after being swarmed by protesters shouting Savile slurs

Boris Johnson is facing demands to apologise after Sir Keir Starmer was targeted by a mob shouting abuse and Jimmy Savile smears outside parliament.

Video footage shows the Labour leader being bundled into a police vehicle as protesters shouted “Traitor” and “Jimmy Savile” and accused him of “protecting paedophiles”.

Officers were forced to step in to protect Sir Keir, who was walking with shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, as a group followed them from outside Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, to one of the entrances to parliament.

It comes just a week after Mr Johnson faced fury from parliamentarians, including his own MPs, after he falsely accused Sir Keir of failing to prosecute Savile while working as director of public prosecutions.

One of the prime minister’s senior advisers and a longstanding ally, Munira Mirza, also resigned over the “scurrilous” accusation, while the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said he would not have made the remark himself.

After Monday evening’s incident, the prime minister made no reference to his previous comments in the House of Commons, but said: “The behaviour directed at the leader of the opposition tonight is absolutely disgraceful.

“All forms of harassment of our elected representatives are completely unacceptable. I thank the police for responding swiftly.”

However, Labour frontbencher Mr Lammy said: “No surprise the conspiracy thugs who harassed Keir Starmer & I repeated slurs we heard from Boris Johnson last week at the despatch box,” adding: “Intimidation, harassment and lies have no place in our democracy. And they won’t ever stop me doing my job.”

Former Tory cabinet minister Julian Smith said the scenes were “appalling” and piled pressure on the prime minister, saying: “It is really important for our democracy and for his [Sir Keir’s] security that the false Savile slurs made against him are withdrawn in full.”

Tobias Ellwood, the former minister who last week called for Mr Johnson to resign, told the PM: “Apologise please. We claim to be the Mother of Parliaments. Let’s stop this drift towards a Trumpian style of politics from becoming the norm. We are better than this.”

Another Tory MP, Robert Largan, said: “Words matter. What we say and how we say it echoes out far beyond Parliament. It can have serious real world consequences. Elected representatives have a responsibility to lower the temperature of debate, not add fuel to the fire.”

The Labour MP Chris Bryant told The Independent: “Boris Johnson has incited this and I think he has done it deliberately. There is nothing unintentional about this. He wants this kind of thing to happen, to hide his moral vacuum.

“It’s remarkably reminiscent of a year ago, with the storming of the Capitol on 6 January 2021. Silence and refusing to apologise doesn’t cut it. He has to completely withdraw what he said, and do so abjectly.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was targeted outside Scotland Yard
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was targeted outside Scotland Yard ((PA))

The Labour MP Dame Angela Eagle tweeted: “Proud of yourself stoking up the worst Internet conspiracy theories PM? Disgusting new low.

“PM must now personally & unconditionally apologise for his disgusting lie on the floor of the House of Commons where he first made it.”

The Independent understands Sir Keir was not harmed during the incident and was back at his office desk shortly after being driven away in a police car.

The home secretary, Priti Patel, who said she was in contact with the police, posted on social media: “All Members of Parliament must be able to go about their lives without fear of threats or intimidation.

“The scenes outside Parliament of people accosting Keir Starmer & David Lammy were completely unacceptable.”

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, thanked police for their “swift intervention”, adding: “This is what happens when fake news is amplified and given credibility by people who should know better”.

Mr Johnson first shared the falsehood in the Commons on 31 January as he faced intense questioning over the publication of Whitehall mandarin Sue Gray’s report “update” into rule-busting parties in No 10 while Covid restrictions were in place.

Under vast pressure, he later attempted to clarify his remarks, insisting he had not been referring to Sir Keir’s “personal record”, but the prime minister has failed to apologise for the smear.

Footage posted to social media also showed Piers Corbyn, the Covid-19 conspiracy theorist and brother of former Labour leader Jeremy, addressing the crowd before the incident and later leading chants of the slogan “Resist, defy, do not comply”.

A Metropolitan Police statement said: “Shortly after 5.10pm on Monday, February 7, a man who had been surrounded by a group of protesters near to New Scotland Yard was taken away from the scene by a police car.”

It continued: “A man and a woman were arrested at the scene for assault of an emergency worker after a traffic cone was thrown at a police officer. They have been taken into custody.”

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