Sir Keir Starmer was mobbed by protesters shouting “Jimmy Savile” and accusing him of “protecting paedophiles” – but were they influenced by Boris Johnson’s remarks?
The Labour leader and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy were walking past New Scotland Yard near parliament on Monday evening when a group surrounded the two politicians before officers intervened, with footage showing Sir Keir being bundled into a police car.
The protesters could be heard shouting “Jimmy Savile” and accusing the leader of “protecting paedophiles” as they surrounded Sir Keir, while officers tried to fend them off.
As a result, Boris Johnson has faced renewed calls, including from his own MPs, to apologise after accusing Sir Keir last week of failing to prosecute the notorious sex offender while he was head of the Crown Prosecution Service.
Following the incident, Downing Street made it clear the PM will not apologise, with a spokesman saying his words last week were “capable of being misconstrued”.
He added: “The prime minister clarified his remarks last week to make clear he was not suggesting Keir Starmer was individually responsible for the Savile decision. I think the prime minister was making a political point about taking responsibility for organisations as a whole.”
Earlier on Tuesday the Speaker warned in the Commons that “our words have consequences”.
Was the protest because of the PM’s remarks?
There does not appear to be any prior mention of protesters gathering in Westminster on Monday because of the Savile accusations.
A planned protest at Downing Street and Parliament Square for Monday was advertised online with a poster, which does not mention Sir Keir in the context of Savile.
It says the rally will “support convoys and actions all over the UK and world”, protect against vaccines, COVID regulations and police bill “attacks on rights”.
The poster also says the group wants to “take down all power – government and fake opposition”.
These types of demonstrations have become fairly regular over the past two years and have also involved protesters turning up at MPs’ homes and offices, as well confronting workers at vaccine centres.
What were the protesters actually saying to Sir Keir?
In videos of Sir Keir being mobbed, protesters can be mainly heard shouting “fake opposition”, “traitor”, “disgrace” and asking him “why aren’t you opposing the government? It’s your job”.
They also said, “why aren’t you standing up for the working-class man?” and mentioned Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
In the background there are shouts of “Jimmy Savile” and some accusing the leader of “protecting paedophiles”.
Anti-vaccine campaigner Piers Corbyn at protest
Two website addresses on the poster are ones set up by Piers Corbyn, the brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been campaigning against vaccines, masks and lockdowns during the pandemic.
He said there were several other groups there, individuals who decided to join, and he was welcoming people to the protest.
Mr Corbyn told Sky News he was about 50 yards away from Sir Keir when he heard the shouting and went over just as the Labour leader was bundled into a police car.
He added: “Some of the protesters just saw Keir Starmer walking past and started shouting at him, it was mostly about how he’s the worst opposition leader we’ve ever had.
“They did say things about Jimmy Savile, but it was nothing to do with Boris’s announcement, that was just a cheap way of dodging the bullet around the parties issue.
“We couldn’t care less about the parties, we want more.”
Canadian convoys, anti-vax, anti-animal cruelty and anti-establishment
While about 20 people were in the mob surrounding Sir Keir, there were many more protesting throughout the day – on a variety of issues.
Earlier in the afternoon, a Sky News cameraman heard the protesters outside parliament shouting in support of the lorry convoy that has brought the Canadian capital of Ottawa to a halt.
A state of emergency has been declared in Ottawa after more than two weeks of the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests against COVID-19 vaccine requirements for lorry drivers to re-enter the country from the US.
Outside parliament at about 6pm, a Sky News reporter walked through around 15 protesters holding placards against cruelty to beagles and against the COVID vaccine.
Who are the group that mobbed Sir Keir?
The group that posted the video of protesters crowding Sir Keir calls itself “Resistance GB” and is part of a wider anti-establishment/anti-vaccine/anti-government movement.
While Resistance GB posted the video, it is likely there were members of other loosely organised groups present as there had been anti-lockdown protests earlier on which attract similar groups.
It is believed one of the people running Resistance GB is a former Conservative councillor.
Two people were arrested, but it is not known if they were part of Resistance GB.
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