The Metropolitan Police have confirmed they intend to intervene to enforce the law if Hezbollah flags are displayed at the upcoming Al Quds March in London on 2 June 2019.
A letter from Patricia Gallan, Assistant Commissioner to the Metropolitan Police, to be sent to organisers of the march, explains that any Hezbollah flags or banners, or chanting in support of Hezbollah will be a potential criminal offence under Section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
This robust approach by the police is welcomed by UKLFI and follows a long campaign by UKLFI to persuade the police to enforce the law and ban the Hezbollah flags at the Al Quds day annual parade.
Hezbollah as a whole was proscribed as a terrorist organisation in the UK on 1 March 2019. Prior to that, only the military wing, but not the political wing was proscribed under the UK Terrorism Act, and those marching at the annual Al Quds Day parade waved Hezbollah flags claiming that they were supporting its political wing.
UKLFI made representations to the police in 2018, to protest against the fact that the police allowed the Hezbollah flag to be flown at previous Al Quds days, and to try to prevent this at the 2018 march. UKLFI threatened a claim for judicial review, when the police refused to agree to prosecute the display of Hezbollah flags.
After Hezbollah as a whole was proscribed, UKLFI again made representations to the police, urging them finally to ban the flying of the Hezbollah flag at the 2019 Al Quds parade on Sunday 2 June 2019. UKLFI asked the Metropolitan Police to confirm that they now accept that displaying a Hezballah flag necessarily and automatically connotes support for the proscribed organisation, and to confirm that display of the flag would give rise to reasonable suspicion of an offence.
Following further representations to the police, UKLFI and others have now received the letter from Patricia Gallan, Assistant Commissioner to the Metropolitan Police, which is to be sent to the organisers of the march. The letter says:
“This year, the Home Secretary has proscribed the whole of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation under the Terrorism Act 2000, so that there is no longer a distinction between the political wing and military wing as previously. There are a number of offences under this Act. One of these is that it is illegal to be a member of, or show support for a terrorist organisation proscribed under the Act. Flags, banners, and chanting can all lead to the suspicion that the individual involved is a member or supporter of the terrorist organisation, Hezbollah.
The MPS is aware of the significant impact that the support for a terrorist organisation can have on the communities of London. It fully intends to intervene to enforce the law, where possible, should any offences be disclosed.”
Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UKLFI commented: “We are pleased that the police now have plans to enforce the law, and to prevent the brazen support for Hezbollah, a group responsible for murderous terror attacks against Israeli, American, and Jewish targets around the globe. Particular thanks go to Dan Berke, Josh Kern and Natasha Hausdorff for their expert assistance in this matter.”