Police chief brands MP’s comments ‘personally offensive’ in fiery exchange

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Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Lee Anderson have locked horns in bad-tempered exchanges during questioning by MPs.

Mr Anderson accused Sir Mark of “walking around with his eyes closed” when the Met chief refused to be drawn on whether he had witnessed examples of racism or sexism during his policing career.

As Sir Mark appeared at the Commons Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday, the Ashfield MP said: “I find it pretty hard to believe that a police officer with years and years of service with an organisation has not witnessed any of this when we know it goes off, because if you have (not) you must be walking around with your eyes closed.”

Further tetchy exchanges followed with Mr Anderson telling Sir Mark to “leave his ivory tower” to deal with protesters in Westminster, while the senior officer retorted that the MP had only a partial understanding of the law.

Mr Anderson said: “Do you think it’s time that you left the ivory tower and got out there on Whitehall and sorted these people out because, you know, people of London, the tourists, the people that work at this place and, you know, the taxi drivers, the bus drivers, they’re getting fed up of it, and you’re just letting it happen. You’ve got the powers now to do this.”

He wrongly insisted that the protesters could be arrested for obstructing the highway.

Home Affairs Select Committee
Lee Anderson at the Home Affairs Select Committee (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)

“I do not want Londoners disrupted any more than anybody else does.

“But the law is very clear that protest is disruptive and to a certain extent, that is allowed.

“That is what the law says at the moment.

“Now, you might not like that, but I have to work to the law rather than whim.”

He said: “I’ll make one more statement because I feel like I’m wasting my time with you, to be honest.

“You say you took five years out of the force.

“There’s probably people listening to this today who wish it was a lot longer, and I’m one of them.

“Do you think you’ve got the confidence of the public?”

Sir Mark replied: “If people want to be personally offensive then write it in newspapers, but I’m not going to answer those questions.”

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