Last week, council leader Liam Smith wrote to home secretary Theresa May asking her to ban “inflammatory” protests in Barking and Dagenham after an English Defence League protest against a planned mosque and community centre in Green Lane, Dagenham, escalated last month.
Indeed he did, as I relayed here.
Then, it was ‘No, siree!’:
The Home Office, however, has told the Post that it may not have the power to grant Mr Smith’s request.
Naturally, the opposing side are throwing their toys out of the pram:
Raza Nadim, of Ilford, is a member of Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPAC UK), which held a protest against the EDL on July 9.
He said: “No matter how repugnant you may find the EDL, banning a protest does stifle free speech.
“But you’re really stifling hate speech.
“I think the council should be congratulated. The EDL have been using the angle of a cover-up by the council about planning permission to say ‘we don’t like Muslims’.”
It seems that the government doesn’t want to get between this rock or that hard place, and said as much last week:
A spokesman for the Home Office said that the home secretary only had the power to ban marches, which protesters could get around by holding “static” demonstrations.
However, any bans would have to follow a Metropolitan Police recommendation to ban a particular protest, and Liam Smith’s letter was not seen as a formal request.
I wonder if Oslo will change that?