The BBC and Sky News kept their top stars away from Westminster today as it was revealed MPs now fear being interviewed outside Parliament in case they are abused.
Giant tents and stages where the broadcasters often film on College Green in central London were empty this afternoon – 24 hours after Tory MP Anna Soubry was branded a ‘Nazi’, a ‘liar’ and a ‘traitor’ by right-wing yellow vest activists.
Ms Soubry was abused as she was interviewed by the BBC’s Simon McCoy and Sky’s Kay Burley in Westminster yesterday – but both broadcasters hosted their afternoon politics shows from a studio today.
It came as it emerged the same far-Right rabble-rousers have also targeted BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, hurled racist abuse at Sky News’ political editor Faisal Islam and yelled misogynist remarks at Ms Burley.
The Sky presenter revealed last night she often needs security guards to escort her to work outside Parliament because thugs chase her screaming ‘sl*g’ and ‘f***ing fascist’, while Ms Kuenssberg was followed by a ‘threatening mob of angry Brexit snarling blokes screaming abuse’ just before Christmas.
Describing the atmosphere on College Green, Mr Islam said today: ‘They [the protesters] have been outright abusive and blocking the entrance and it’s fair to say that MPs are slightly fearful to come out to do interviews there’.
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The tents and stages used by the BBC and Sky on College Green were left empty today as broadcasters kept their stars and MPs indoors to avoid abuse
Anna Soubry (pictured at Parliament this afternoon) has slammed the police for ‘ignoring’ the actions of a far-right mob as they verbally abused her outside the Commons and labelled her a ‘Nazi’ – and said women are the common targets
Kay Burley and Anna Soubry were heckled on live TV by screaming protesters yesterday (pictured together) as police were urged to intervene
Kay Burley revealed last night that she needs security at Westminster because intimidating groups yell ‘sl*g’ or ‘f***ing fascist’ at her
BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg (pictured) was followed by a ‘threatening mob of angry Brexit snarling blokes screaming abuse’ just before Christmas, it has emerged
The far-Right activists, who wear yellow hi-vis jackets modelled on the French gilets jaunes movements, like to livestream their actions on Facebook.
Ms Soubry told Sky News that being called a Nazi was ‘exceptionally offensive’ and a ‘step too far’, before adding that ‘police should have intervened’.
It came after the Tory MP said the abuse ‘does appear to be targeted at women’.
Sky and BBC bosses are said to have decided to keep their top broadcasters away until at least tomorrow, one presenter told Guido Fawkes, but their temporary stages put up for Brexit coverage remain standing.
A BBC spokesman did not deny that the they had pulled away from College Green but insisted they don’t host shows from there every day. Sky News is yet to respond.
Today Scotland Yard said they have increased the number of police on Parliament Square, are ‘reviewing footage’ of verbal attacks on Ms Soubry and officers had been ‘briefed to intervene where they hear or see breaches of the law’.
Top Met cop admits he is still trying to ‘understand’ if calling someone a Nazi breaks the law
The Met Officer in charge of policing Westminster today admitted they still don’t know if calling someone a Nazi is an offence.
DAC Laurence Taylor (pictured today) said his officers are still studying footage of the abuse of Ms Soubry.
Today he was asked directly: ‘Is it a criminal offence to call someone a Nazi?’
He then told LBC: ‘That is part of the assessment we are undertaking and we need to understand if language such as that meets the criminal threshold’.
Critics quickly responded to his comments and said: ‘You’d think they’d have figured that out by now?’ and another tweeted: ‘Trying to decide! Almost every patrol cop in the country deals with this on a daily basis… Basics’
Police near Parliament have been ‘briefed to intervene appropriately’ if the law is broken after Tory MP Anna Soubry accused them of ignoring abuse.
The pro-EU Tory made the allegation the day after she was branded a ‘Nazi’ and a ‘liar’ by a mob who targeted her during live television interviews and then followed her as she made her way back into the Commons.
It was the latest in a string of high-profile demonstrations targeting individual MPs in Westminster and prompted more than 50 MPs from across the Commons to write to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick on Monday night to express their ‘serious concerns’ about the ‘deteriorating public order and security situation’ outside Parliament.
Today Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor
DAC Taylor said: ‘An ongoing policing operation at the Parliamentary estate around Brexit continues and we have an appropriate policing plan in place.
‘Our role is to facilitate peaceful protest and balance the needs and rights of all those present, including protesters, MPs and members of the public.
‘We will deal robustly with incidents of harassment and abuse against anyone where that harassment or abuse constitutes a criminal offence.
‘Officers in the area have been briefed to intervene appropriately where they hear or see breaches of the law.’
But critics have demanded to know why the police have not made any arrests with one tweeting sarcastically: ‘Novel, police told to intervene when they see or hear the law being broken’ and another asking the Met: ‘What was the brief before?’.
Tory MP Anna Soubry today claimed those called her a ‘Nazi’ outside Parliament specifically target women with abuse and the police just ‘ignore it’.
The anti-Brexit campaigner was harangued by a mob of far-right activists as she was interviewed on TV and as she walked past Parliament yesterday.
Ms Soubry said: ‘There was an incident involving Laura Kuenssberg where no action was taken, and as you know [Parliament] is crawling with police officers’.
She added: ‘The policy of the Metropolitan Police is to ignore it and that is the problem’, adding that Sky News Political Editor Faisal Islam was also racially abused but nobody was arrested.
Commons speaker John Bercow has revealed he and other MPs have spoken to police and said yesterday: ‘I am concerned at this stage about what seems to be a pattern of protest targeted in particular at women’.
Today he told the Commons he has written to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick asking for help to tackle ‘aggressive, threatening and intimidating behaviour’ against MPs and journalists outside Parliament.
More than 50 MPs have also signed a letter demanding action from the Met.
Ms Soubry has accused the police of ignoring abuse and intimidation outside Parliament where there are suggestions that broadcasts from College Green could be reduced or even stopped.
Speaking about the incident where she was abused yesterday she told Good Morning Britain: ‘The police just stood there. The police were there. It’s a definite breach of the peace.
‘This particular group of people is roaming around Westminster intimating people and they are known to police, blocking bridges and setting things off at Downing Street.’
The verbal attack on her was the latest in a string of high-profile demonstrations targeting individual MPs in Westminster and prompted more than 50 MPs from across the Commons to write to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick on Monday night to express their ‘serious concerns’ about the ‘deteriorating public order and security situation’ outside Parliament.
The Broxtowe MP added that, while she anticipated a level of criticism and abuse as an MP, she expected authorities to act when it ‘crossed the line’.
She told GMB: ‘It crossed the line in December, it was journalists who were being attacked.
‘(Sky News’ political editor) Faisal Islam, who is male, was racially abused by these people, it’s the same group, all on video, and the policy of the Metropolitan Police is to ignore it.’
Shocking new footage reveals how far-right protesters screamed abuse in the face of Anna Soubry as the mobbed the pro-EU MP outside the Houses of Parliament.
A selfie video recorded by activist James Goddard shows the group of men crowding around Ms Soubry and blocking her path as she walks alone to the Commons.
Mr Goddard is seen mocking Ms Soubry earlier in the video as she gives an interview to the BBC, calling her a ‘traitor’ and vowing to run against her in her constituency.
Ms Soubry was forced to stop talking during the live TV interview while people off camera shouted ‘Soubry is a Nazi’ and ‘liar, liar, liar’.
The MP for Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire then made her way back to Parliament, pursued by a yellow vest wearing mob shouting ‘Anna, you’re a fascist’.
At one point in the video, a person in the crowd puts their hand on Ms Soubry’s shoulder, causing the startled MP to quickly spin round and confront the person.
Anna Soubry was pursued by an aggressive mob, including far-right activist James Goddard (pictured left, next to Soubry) who shouted in her face and called her a ‘fascist’ as she made her way back to Parliament
The Met said its officers were ‘briefed’ today to take action but some critics asked: ‘What was their brief until now?’
The Met has said that it has increased officer numbers and patrols in the wake of the abuse
Even as she reached the gates of parliament she is blocked from entering by the group, as police officers stand mere yards away without intervening.
Tories point the finger at John McDonnell for urging supporters to ‘confront’ Tories
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell should take some of the blame for the ongoing intimidation at Westminster, Tories claimed today.
In 2015 he said Conservative MPs should not be allowed to ‘show their face anywhere’ without being subjected to ‘direct action’.
Today senior Tory James Cleverly tweeted: ‘The vile abuse directed at @Anna_Soubry is unacceptable. Those condemning it should also condemn John McDonnell for saying that Tory MPs should not to be able to show their faces in public without being challenged by direct action. This is direct action’.
In a string of incendiary speeches since 2010, Mr McDonnell has described Conservatives as ‘social criminals’, and threatened to ‘confront’ anyone deemed to be opponents of the working class by occupying their homes and offices.
The hard-Left politician also believes the coalition government was an ‘elected dictatorship’ and once urged activists to ‘target’ journalists who do not cover the ‘right’ stories.
As recently as 2014, he backed illegal action to bring down elected governments, saying: ‘We used to call it insurrection, but we’re polite now and we call it direct action.’
Adding that she thought calling someone a Nazi was ‘crossing the line’, she said: ‘I don’t have a problem with people coming up and having a go at me. It’s the tone.
‘We all have a responsibility with the language we use and that includes protesters as well as writers and MPs in Parliament.
‘It does appear to be targeted at women. There was an incident involving [BBC journalist] Laura Kuenssberg where no action was taken, and as you know [Parliament] is crawling with police officers.
‘Women in part are thinking ‘why would I want to do a job like that?’ and that is really dangerous.’
Earlier in the programme, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said people should not ‘overreact’ and that he had been ‘called that and worse every day and no one cared’.
However Ms Soubry fired back: ‘I want to say this is not a competition; it’s willy-waving, saying ‘I’ve been more abused’.
‘Mr Farage is in a different place, he’s a member of the elite by the way. I object that because I’m apparently ‘a member of the elite I deserve it’; it’s not a competition between us.’
The MP was then challenged by Piers Morgan over saying about Farage in 2016: ‘He looks like somebody has put their finger up his bottom and he really rather likes it’.
Speaking about the comment, for which she apologised ‘unreservedly’, Ms Soubry replied: ‘I don’t think it’s as bad as calling someone a Nazi.’
Mr Islam said he was called a rapist and ‘not British’ while reporting at Westminster in December
After yesterday’s incident, which was criticised by both Remain and Leave MPs, Scotland Yard confirmed they were looking into it and deciding whether or not a crime had been committed.
Now at least 55 MPs have signed a letter to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick raising concerns about safety outside Parliament – just three years after Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in her constituency.
Sky News Political Editor Faisal Islam (pictured) was racially abused but nobody was arrested, Anna Soubry claims
The letter said: ‘After months of peaceful and calm protests by groups representing a range of political views on Brexit, an ugly element of individuals with strong far right and extreme right connections, which your officers are well aware of, have increasingly engaged in intimidatory and potentially criminal acts targeting Members of Parliament, journalists, activists and members of the public.
‘We understand there are ongoing investigations but there appears to be an ongoing lack of coordination in the response from the police and appropriate authorities including with Westminster borough policing, and despite clear assurances this would be dealt with following incidents before Christmas, there have been a number of further serious and well publicised incidents today.’
It added: ‘The ability to peacefully protest and express views outside Parliament is a cherished part of our democracy – and we want to retain the right for those who have conducted themselves within the law and a peaceful way to continue to do so.
‘It is however utterly unacceptable for Members of Parliament, journalists, activists and members of the public to be subject to abuse, intimidation and threatening behaviour and indeed potentially serious offences while they go about their work.
A mob of protesters were branded vile today after they interrupted a live TV interview to hurl Nazi chants at Tory MP Anna Soubry (pictured during the BBC interview today)
‘Many of these concerns have been repeatedly raised both with officers on the ground, and at senior levels with over the past weeks since the situation worsened, as well as with the parliamentary authorities and ministers and so it is obviously concerning to have to write to you formally in this regard.’
Concerns over safety around Parliament come after Jo Cox was brutally murdered while on her way to meet constituents in Birstall, West Yorkshire.
The mother-of-two was shot and stabbed by a man with links to far-right political groups including the English Defence League and the National Front.
He targeted the Labour MP just a week before the EU referendum, and shouted ‘Britain first’ before launching his attack.
Many MPs took to Twitter to express their disgust at the incident, while others raised the issue in the Commons.
Last night, Miss Soubry tweeted: ‘I fail to see why journalists and technicians should be subjected to the same abuse and intimidation as the police stand by and do nothing.’ And she called for the protesters to be prosecuted under public order legislation.
Labour MP Mary Creagh said the ‘really vile, misogynistic thuggery’ shown was not an isolated incident, while her colleague Stephen Doughty called for ‘proper action’ to be taken by Scotland Yard.
Tory MP Nick Boles said on Twitter: ‘Far be it from me to tell the police their job but I thought that threatening violence was an arrestable offence under the Public Order Act 1986.’
Labour frontbencher Angela Rayner added: ‘What has our country come to when watching BBC News all you can hear is chants from protesters calling Anna Soubry a Nazi. How disgusting and offensive: they do their causes no good!’
After the issue was raised in the Commons, Speaker John Bercow said he was aware of incidents ‘involving aggressive and threatening behaviour towards members and others by assorted protesters’.
MPs across the political divide condemned the abuse and said there is no place for such intimidation
Tory MP and Theresa May’s former deputy Damian Green was among the MPs who condemned the abuse
Labour MP David Lammy said the abuse caught on camera is disgusting and accused those hurling it of being historically illiterate
Mr Bercow said it was a matter for the Met Police rather than Parliamentary authorities as it happened in the street, but added: ‘Female members, and in a number of cases I’m advised, female journalists have been subjected to aggressive protest and what many would regard as harassment.
‘I can assure the House that I am keeping a close eye on events and I will speak to those who advise me about these matters.’
During the BBC interview, Miss Soubry told journalist Simon McCoy: ‘I do object to being called a Nazi, actually. I just think this is astonishing, this is what has happened to our country. But let’s try and move on and be positive about things.’
Protesters also chanted slogans including ‘Liar, liar’ throughout a live interview by Miss Soubry on Sky News.
Yvette Cooper called out the ‘completely appalling abuse’ that Miss Soubry was subject to while Norman Smith questioned ‘Is this what its come to?’
Nicola Sturgeon agreed that it was appalling and insisted we need to make a stand against this type of behaviour
Andrew Adonis also wrote to Cressida Dick, reminding the commissioner that it is ‘less than three years since an MP was murdered in cold blood by a man spouting the very same rhetoric as the men who yesterday attacked Anna [Soubry], Owen [Jones], and Femi’
Seb Dance offered his solidarity with Anna Soubry and others while Piers Morgan stated that Britain was ‘better than this
Harriet Harman called the incident an ‘attack on democracy’ and Nic Dakin said that he does often disagree with Miss Soubry but finds the ‘thuggish behaviour’ shocking
Over the chants, she told journalist Kay Burley: ‘I don’t have a problem with people demonstrating and making their views heard.
‘I have a real problem with people who call me a traitor or ‘Soubry, you Nazi’. That is a criminal offence and I’m a criminal barrister.’
Theresa May’s spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister has been very clear that nobody involved in the political process should be subjected to abuse or harassment. They should be free to do their job without any form of intimidation and it is clearly unacceptable when that isn’t the case.’
Last night, a Met spokesman said: ‘Police received a third party report of a public order offence on Monday in the area of College Green, SW1. Officers are assessing if any crimes have been committed. There has been no arrest at this stage.’
Anna Soubry has needed a police escort after being heckled and harassed by a mob of protesters outside parliament last month (pictured)
Sky News presenter Miss Burley also revealed on Twitter that she needed security to escort her from her place of work.
She wrote: ‘These people are not pro-Brexit. They are pro-intimidation. They specifically target me and scream ‘slag’, or ‘f***ing fascist’ over and over and over again, and those are just some comments I can mention in polite company.’
A group of anti-EU protesters gathered on College Green in Westminster – where many of the press interviews around Brexit are held – have harassed journalists there before.
A few weeks ago Guardian columnist Owen Jones was heckled by protesters as he gave his views on politics and Brexit.
Eloise Todd, the head of Best for Britain – the anti Brexit campaign group – said: ‘It’s downright disgusting to see people baying at an MP like that and throwing around such offensive words simply because they disagree with her position on Brexit. It’s awful and it turns my stomach.
‘Britain is a place for vigorous and vibrant debate, but, it seems today it turned into pure hate for a few mindless thugs.
‘This kind of evil discourse belongs in the sewer and not a stones throw from Parliament.’
Revealed: Far-Right rabble-rouser who branded MP Anna Soubry a ‘Nazi’ is a Trump and Tommy Robinson fan who begs for donations to support his ‘work’ as a ‘yellow vest’ campaigner
James Goddard (pictured) is a far-right activist with a reputation for heckling and intimidating people
The far-right rabble-rouser who abused Anna Soubry is a vocal supporter of Tommy Robinson and Donald Trump and asks for online donations to support his ‘yellow vest’ campaign, MailOnline can reveal today.
James Goddard, 29, from Leicester, denies the Tory MP was verbally assaulted when he called her a Nazi – but says she ‘deserves’ a barracking for treating him and others with ‘contempt’.
He added: ‘Why is it OK for [the left] to say it [Nazi] yet the moment we say it we’re the ones who are branded things and they’re going to investigate us?’
On Monday he also abused Owen Jones, branding him a ‘Communist bully’ and a ‘lying little toad’ whose ‘parents must be ashamed’.
As people called for Goddard and his supporters to be arrested he said he ‘has nothing to apologise for’ and said he has a right to abuse MPs.
Since December the professional protester has been outside Parliament where he has barracked MPs and journalists and also visited the ‘treacherous’ Labour Party’s offices in central London.
On his Twitter and Facebook accounts he encourages supporters to donate to him and ‘support my work’ via a PayPal account.
The 29-year-old from Leicester says that Halal meat should be banned and that no new mosques should be built in the UK to avoid Britain becoming a Muslim country in 50 years.
Trump supporter Mr Goddard also claimed terror attacks were being covered up by the UK Government.
Anna Soubry was pursued by an aggressive mob, including far-right activist James Goddard (pictured left, next to Soubry) who shouted in her face and called her a ‘fascist’ as she made her way back to Parliament
Goddard at a Free Tommy Robinson rally where he branded the establishment ‘satanic paedophiles’
Speaking at a rally for the ex EDL leader in the summer, when Tommy Robinson was jailed for contempt, he railed against ‘the establishment’ and called them ‘satanic paedophiles’.
In the bizarre rant, he accused ‘the establishment’ of ‘raping our kids’ and ‘murdering us’ before leading the crowd in a chant of ‘ooooh Tommy Robinson.’
Mr Goddard is also at the forefront of the newly established so-called British yellow vests movement.
The group wear high-vis yellow jackets in an effort to copy the look of the Gilets Jaunes protest movement in France.
He gleefully films video clips of himself heckling and shouting at police and MPs, who he brands ‘traitors’, and then posts them on his Twitter and Facebook pages for his thousands of followers to see.
Yesterday, he and his fellow protesters surrounded and barracked MPs and journalists who had been giving interviews on College Green near Parliament.
They angrily chanted that Tory MP Anna Soubry was a Nazi before following her all the way back to Parliament shouting abuse at her.
The same day they mobbed Guardian columnist Owen Jones – hurling abuse at him and branding him a traitor.
But Mr Goddard revels in the notoriety his abuse gives him, sending tweets gleefully linking to news articles about him.
Who is Anna Soubry? British Conservative Party politician chased by pro-Brexit protesters
Miss Soubry is a British Conservative Party politician, former barrister and journalist who has been the MP for Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire since 2010.
Her roles in parliament have included being Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans.
She has also been Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans and Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise.
Miss Soubry is a strong European Union Remainer and backed the campaign to stay in the EU during the referendum campaign.
Anna Soubry at a press conference in London discussing why they feel that Brexit plans should be put to a public vote (December 2918)
When the result of the referendum was announced she hit out at Boris Johnson, who spearheaded the Leave campaign, and accused him of backing the bid in order to become Prime Minister.
Shortly after on June 28 in 2016 she made an impromptu speech outside Parliament and told the crowds ‘we made a terrible, terrible mistake on Friday’, and urged fellow Remainers to keep fighting.
She went on to vote to implement Article 50, because she said she had promised her constituents that if they voted leave then she would adhere to her wishes.
The following September she slammed members of the Leave campaign after it was revealed that their promise of £350,000 of extra funding for the NHS.
Miss Soubry was one of 11 Tory rebels who voted for Parliament to be guaranteed a final say on the Brexit deal, which was later passed.
Following calls from Brexiteers for the Chancellor to be sacked after claiming Brexit would only cause slight change, Miss Soubry said that the 35 MPs concerned shouldn’t dictate the term of Brexit.
She went to on say that she intended to leave the party which she did not feel comfortable being apart of because it had been ‘taken over’ by Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson.
A year later she declared that she would resign the Conservative whip and vote to have no confidence in her government if ‘no deal’ became the policy of the government.
She is currently still a member of the party.