The son of a Holocaust survivor, Daniel Confino, has been threatened with arrest under the Public Order Act 1986 for driving a van emblazoned with anti-BBC and Gary Lineker slogans, the Telegraph reports.
One of Mr Confino’s protest slogans read “Gary Lineker is Hamas’s bitch”. Another referenced the bias allegedly shown by BBC Radio 4’s Today presenter Mishal Husain during a recent interview with immigration minister Robert Jenrick, in which she repeatedly quizzed him over the plight of Gazans following Israel’s invasion of the Strip, but said nothing about the 100+ hostages still being held captive by Hamas terrorists following the group’s 7th October attack on Israel.
Mr Confino told the Telegraph he was ordered to move on by officers while staging his protest outside the BBC’s London headquarters earlier this month. At the time, one side of his van carried the message: “BBC is Lineker’s pimp.”
The aim of his protest, he says, was to highlight what he claims is the public service broadcaster’s indulgence of Lineker, following a succession of X posts in recent months in which the Match of the Day presenter has shown support for Palestinians in the ongoing conflict in Gaza, including one now deleted X post that called for Israel to be banned from international football.
Although Mr Confino complied with police requests to drive away from the BBC’s headquarters, he says officers followed him, pulled him over nearby, and warned him that he could be arrested under the Public Order Act.
In England and Wales, Section 5 of the Public Order Act provides for the offence of “harassment, alarm or distress” where someone is “displaying… any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening or abusive” when “within sight or hearing of someone who is likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress”.
Following these words of advice, Mr Confino drove his van home, before then visiting his local police station to establish what language he could use without risking arrest.
The response he received was vague, he said. “I explained that I wanted to be sure from the same group that deals with Palestinian protests that my wording was cleared, or to identify any offending language.”
“The confusion of the police seems to be that a word in isolation like ‘bitch’ gets them very excited but individual less forceful words which when put into a sentence are deeply threatening and alarming and distressing and harassing like ‘from the river [Jordan] to the [Mediterranean] sea, Palestine will be free’ are waved through, no problem.”
He added that the Public Order Act is so arbitrarily applied that it was practically impossible for a law-abiding citizen to demonstrate using provocative slogans without fear of arrest.
Mr Confino also claimed his treatment highlights a police “double standard” over the Israel-Hamas war, and cited multiple recent incidents where pro-Palestinian demonstrators have not been arrested despite carrying placards calling for “jihad”.
Since Hamas’s terrorist attack on Israel last year, pro-Palestinian marches have taken place most Saturdays in central London, and despite police warnings have regularly featured offensive and antisemitic placards.
Since the protests began, however, the Met has made around 300 arrests, many of which have been for the possession of such placards.
Following public anger that a pro-Palestine protester at one such event had not been arrested despite being pictured holding a placard that read “The final solution?” and depicted a Hamas terrorist pushing a Star of David and two Jewish figures into the Mediterranean Sea, the Met released a statement saying it “understood why people are angry and disappointed”.
“The reality,” it continued, “is with a protest involving 40,000 people where officers are focusing not just on placards but on crowd safety, potential disorder and other offences there will always be some that are missed.
Having asked the public for help in identifying the protester, the Met added: “Where offences aren’t seen in the moment we will still act, identifying suspects and making arrests.”
The FSU discussed the complex issues surrounding policing, free speech and protecting communities at a recent event where our expert panel included: the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Ken MacDonald; the government’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Jonathan Hall KC; barrister George Thomas; and the barrister and Legal Director of UK Lawyers for Israel, Natasha Hausdorff.
The full video is available over on our YouTube channel, and below.