Disruption to the King’s coronation will be prevented by police using their “full range of powers”, according to Oliver Dowden, amid reports of planned sabotage involving rape alarms.
The Deputy Prime Minister said “all necessary steps” will be taken to “protect the integrity” of the May 6 ceremony in central London.
The Mail on Sunday cited “senior security sources” as warning that protesters are plotting to disrupt the event by throwing rape alarms at horses in the procession.
It said this has prompted concerns in Government over safety if spooked horses bolted into crowds lining the route to Westminster Abbey.
“I have been meeting with the Home Secretary, with the Culture Secretary, who has responsibility for the ceremonials for the coronation, we’ve been briefed by the police and received intelligence reports in respect of this.
“What I would say is we have experience of dealing with these situations, it’s a relatively similar situation to what happened with the platinum jubilee, and indeed with Queen Elizabeth’s funeral.
“So, we will be taking all necessary steps to protect the integrity of the occasion.”
Asked if banning orders will be used and searches carried out before people enter areas near the ceremony, Mr Dowden replied: “Clearly the police are operationally independent in this country, but we are working very closely.
“I have met with the relevant commanders in respect of the operation, I know that they’re taking this very seriously and that they will use the full range of powers at their disposal to make sure that public order is maintained and that the ceremony is not disrupted.”
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told the Mail on Sunday: “Mindless behaviour of this sort would be utterly and totally unacceptable on any day.
“But it would be reckless beyond belief to seek to sabotage the coronation by scaring the horses, not just for the animals’ own welfare but for the safety of the thousands of spectators lining the route.
“I hope the authorities will do all they can to prevent such insanity.”
The newspaper said its sources had not specified which group or groups are said to be behind the plan.
Parliament last year approved measures to try and impose further restrictions on protests via the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act.
It included giving police in England and Wales more powers to impose conditions on non-violent protests judged to be too noisy, and thereby causing “intimidation or harassment” or “alarm or distress” to the public.
The Government is also pushing ahead to bolster police powers further, with the Public Order Bill returning to the House of Commons on Monday to enable MPs to consider further amendments made in the House of Lords.
The draft legislation aims to curb the guerrilla protest tactics used by groups such as Just Stop Oil, Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion.
Concerns have been raised by MPs, peers and campaigners over allowing police to use stop and search without suspicion to tackle disruptive protests.