Greater Manchester Police have responded to claims that they attempted to sabotage the book launch of journalist and political activist Tommy Robinson.
More than 1,000 patriots descended on the open air Castlefield Bowl venue in Manchester city centre last night to get their hands on a copy of ‘Mohammed’s Koran: Why Muslims Kill For Islam’. This came after an indoor venue on the outskirts of the town had pulled out from hosting the event just days before following accusations of pressure from the police.
Mr Robinson had claimed in an online broadcast: “I have been contacting the police for three months. Different liaison officers across the country I’ve been contacting, asking for a point of contact with Manchester Police to liaise with them to ensure it is done in the safest manner. They’ve blanked us. They’ve blanked me.
“The venue has been trying to contact the police of which I have a copy detailing back and forth emails saying ‘are you aware we are holding this event’, ‘are you aware we need to talk about this event?’ and everything has been fine until three days before the event. The police go in and basically, to put it in basic terms, they threaten the venue with taking away their licence. The licensing officer and the chief inspector have tried to sabotage my book launch.”
This morning a spokesperson from Greater Manchester Police’s corporate communications branch responded to those claims and reiterated a previously prepared statement which said: “Police have been in contact with the organisers of the event and will have a full police operation in place. We respect everyone’s right to a lawful protest, but with this comes a high degree of personal responsibility. Those who behave in a manner beyond what is lawful will be dealt with accordingly.”
When pressed for a second time by Shy Society on the claims being made by Mr Robinson, the GMP spokesperson added: “Police did not cancel the event.” This statement, which critics may argue is deliberately vague and ambiguous, fails to address Mr Robinson’s declaration that the original venue was put under pressure to cancel.
Greater Manchester Police also confirmed that despite a counter-protest of around 100 people from UAF and the Manchester branch of Stand Up To Racism, the event had passed off peacefully with just a single arrest made for breach of the peace. Police said they were unable to confirm whether the individual arrested was from the book launch or the counter demonstration. The group opposed to the book launch stayed in the area for around an hour waving ‘No to the Nazis’ placards and chanting songs such as ‘Follow your leader, shoot yourself like Adolf Hitler’ despite Mr Robinson working as a journalist for Jewish-owned company Rebel Media.
Some in attendance also claimed police had ordered the closure of a number of city centre pubs in the vicinity. This suggestion was refuted by the spokesperson who added: “In terms of the public houses being forced to close, if this was the case it’s not likely that this was an order from police so you’d have to approach any venues themselves.”
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