Ban ‘fascist thuggery’ of EDL, says ex-police authority chief

A former police authority chairman has accused the English Defence League (EDL) of “fascist street thuggery” after a march in Hull that led to 10 arrests.

Trouble flared when about 75 people took part a march along Spring Bank on June 8, although those arrested were protesting against the event. Police said the men were held for public order-related offences when a “small disturbance” happened just after 1.15pm. Eight were released without charge, while a man aged 19 received a police caution for possession of a class B drug, and a 23-year-old was charged with possession of an offensive weapon in public.

Hull councillor Colin Inglis has now called on police to ban any further marches. In a motion going before a meeting of the authority tomorrow, Coun Inglis, a former chairman of Humberside Police Authority, wrote:

“Council notes the so-called ‘English Defence League’ march along Spring Bank. It further notes the deliberately provocative nature of this event with participants engaging in crude and racist behaviour clearly intended to elicit a response from local residents in a typical display of fascist street thuggery. Council believes that the residents of Myton ward, the City in general but of Spring Bank in particular, deserve to be protected against such blatant attempts to incite communal hatred and calls upon the Police to ban any further such planned marches.”

Responding to the call to ban EDL marches, Humberside Police Assistant Chief Constable Alan Leaver said: “The public has a right to lawful, peaceful protest which we acknowledge and facilitate where appropriate. We work with events organisers to ensure that such demonstrations are able to take place in an orderly manner, preserving public safety and minimising disruption to the wider community, and it is not our intention at the moment to seek to prevent any marches from taking place.”

Humberside Police Commissioner Matthew Grove called the EDL’s views “distasteful”, but said he thought banning the marches would be “counter-productive”. He said:

“While I sympathise with the concerns expressed by Councillor Inglis and the distress and inconvenience that recent marches have caused to residents, to seek to ban such activities would in my opinion be counter-productive. It was clear to all that the small number of participants in the EDL marches represented a tiny minority view. The largely restrained and dignified response of the wider community demonstrated that we have a healthy and balanced law abiding community who would not be provoked into over reacting and showed very clearly that there was no support in our community for their extreme and distasteful views.”

The march was one of many staged by the EDL across the country in recent weeks amid heightened community tensions following the horrific murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, London, last month.

Yorkshire Post, 19 June 2013