Keir Starmer: Labour leader heckled by mob outside UK Parliament

Calls for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to withdraw Jimmy Savile slur for sake of Labour leader’s safety

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Sir Keir Starmer had to be rescued by police from a mob near UK Parliament, leading to more pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the Jimmy Savile insult he aimed at the opposition leader.

Mr Starmer faced baseless allegations of “protecting paedophiles” and chants about sex offender Savile from protesters before being bundled into a police car for protection.#

Former Cabinet minister Julian Smith said Mr Johnson must withdraw the Savile slur for the sake of Mr Starmer's safety after the incident on Monday.

Mr Johnson tweeted that the “behaviour directed” at the Labour leader was “absolutely disgraceful”, but he did not address the nature of the abuse.

Officers stepped in to protect the opposition leader as the group, some protesting against Covid-19 measures, followed him from outside Scotland Yard.

On at least two videos posted to social media, a man and a woman were heard shouting about Savile to the Labour leader, as he walked with shadow foreign secretary David Lammy.

At least one person was heard repeatedly shouting about “protecting paedophiles”.

Last week, an under-pressure Mr Johnson accused Mr Starmer of having “used his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile” while director of public prosecutions.

After the incident, Mr Lammy said it was “no surprise the conspiracy theorist thugs who harassed” Mr Starmer and himself “repeated” Mr Johnson’s slurs.

Mr Smith, who served as Mr Johnson’s Northern Ireland secretary, tweeted: “What happened to Keir Starmer tonight outside Parliament is appalling.

“It is really important for our democracy and for his security that the false Savile slurs made against him are withdrawn in full.”

Chris Bryant, the Labour MP who chairs the House of Commons committee on standards, said: “This is appalling. People were shouting all sorts at Keir, including ‘Jimmy Savile’.

“This is what happens when a prime minister descends into the gutter and recycles lies from hard-right conspiracy theorists. Political poison has an effect. Johnson has no moral compass.”

Labour’s Dame Angela Eagle tweeted: “Proud of yourself stoking up the worst internet conspiracy theories, PM? Disgusting new low.

“PM must now personally and unconditionally apologise for his disgusting lie on the floor of the House of Commons where he first made it.”

Scotland Yard said two arrests were made after clashes between police and protesters on the Victoria Embankment after Mr Starmer was taken to safety.

“Shortly after 5.10pm on Monday, February 7, a man who had been surrounded by a group of protesters near to New Scotland Yard was taken away from the scene by a police car," the Metropolitan Police said.

“A man and a woman were arrested at the scene for assault of an emergency worker after a traffic cone was thrown at a police officer.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the scenes were “completely unacceptable” and she was in contact with police over the incident.

Footage posted to social media showed Piers Corbyn, the Covid-19 conspiracy theorist brother of former Labour leader Jeremy, addressing the crowd before the incident and later leading chants of “Resist, defy, do not comply”.

Mr Starmer, surrounded by police, was followed down the street and abused with shouts of “Why aren’t you opposing?” and “Traitor”.

Someone yelled: “You should be hung.”

“Why did you go after Julian Assange, why did you go after journalists?” one man shouted.

It was understood Mr Starmer was not harmed during the incident.

After he was taken to safety, an officer was called a “pathetic little thug” during angry exchanges.

Protesters displayed signs opposing mandatory vaccination and the use of restrictions to prevent Covid-19 deaths.

Mr Johnson first shared the Savile falsehood in the Commons on January 31.

Under vast pressure, he later clarified his remarks, insisting he had not been referring to Mr Starmer’s “personal record”.

But he did not apologise for the “scurrilous” smear, which long-standing adviser Munira Mirza gave as the reason for resigning as Downing Street’s head of policy.

Mr Starmer apologised while director of public prosecutions in 2013 for the CPS having failed to bring Savile to justice four years earlier.

But there is no evidence he had any personal role in the failure to prosecute the man who was one of Britain’s most shocking sex offenders before his death in 2011.

Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative MP and chairman of the Commons defence select committee, added to the calls for the prime minister to apologise for his ill-chosen remarks.

Mr Ellwood said the rhetoric he used risks leading the UK “towards a Trumpian style of politics”.

“PM - Apologise please,” he tweeted. “We claim to be the Mother of all Parliaments. Let’s stop this drift towards a Trumpian style of politics from becoming the norm. We are better than this.”

Brendan Cox, whose wife Jo Cox was murdered by a far-right terrorist in June 2016, told of potential devastating consequences if “poison” is allowed to fester in political spheres.

He said if the incident was a one-off “we could be more sanguine about it” but over the past years there has been an increase in aggression directed at MPs from across the political spectrum.

During an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said “it’s very hard to draw a direct link” between the prime minister’s controversial comments and the mob that accosted the opposition leader.

“However, it’s also true that if you inject poison into politics that has a whole set of unintended consequences that people will react to in different ways,” he said.

Updated: February 08, 2022, 11:25 AM