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Met Commissioner shouldn't have returned to force claims MP

Ashfield MP Lee Anderson told the Home Affairs Committee that he is among those who wish Sir Mark Rowley's five-year absence from the Met was 'a lot longer'.

A serving MP has questioned whether the public have confidence in the Met Commissioner and said there are "probably people" who would've preferred Sir Mark Rowley not to have returned to the force.

During a fiery exchange at the Home Affairs Committee, Lee Anderson quizzed Sir Mark on specific cases where he had witnessed racism, misogyny or sexism during his time in policing.

When the Commissioner refused to be drawn on individual cases, Mr Anderson said: "You’re in charge of cleaning up the Met force, it’s your responsibility, but you can’t actually remember any [cases]…do you seriously expect the committee to believe that?"

Defending his record, Sir Mark said he has sat on "many misconduct panels" during his career and has "pretty much dismissed everybody who’s come in front of me on those panels…”.

While accepting that such behaviour does happen in the Met, he stressed that he has seen “nothing like that" in the force given his relatively brief role at the top level.

“I’ve only worked in the Met for six years as a very senior officer, it doesn’t come across your desk in that way," he said, to which Mr Anderson replied that he appeared to be "in denial".

The 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.”

The discussion then moved into the area of protests, with Mr Anderson recalling activity on Wednesday morning where he said protestors were illegally obstructing the highway.

He argued that Sir Mark has "the powers" to do more to stop these protestors, to which the Commissioner responded by saying that the Public Order Bill is still "bouncing around Parliament".

Mr Anderson persisted by claiming that the Commissioner "could move these people on” because they’re obstructing the highway, and wrongly insisted that they could be arrested for doing this.

Sir Mark accused Mr Anderson of "making selective comments based on a partial understanding of the law”, and said: "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.

“You might want to believe that the law says that no disruption is allowed whatsoever through protest, but that is not the case."

Mr Anderson countered by saying that the Commissioner "might want to believe" that he's doing his job correctly, but he doesn't believe he is.

He went on to question Sir Mark's decision to return to the force; making comments which posed a question the Commissioner deemed "personally offensive" and refused to answer.

Mr Anderson said: "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?"

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