Laurence Fox criticises 'despicable' police at lockdown protest

Watch: Laurence Fox criticises police at London lockdown protest

Actor Laurence Fox has criticised the Metropolitan Police as “despicable” after clashes with lockdown protesters central in London.

Fox, who is running as a candidate for mayor of London, joined thousands of demonstrators on Saturday to campaign against the ongoing coronavirus shutdown.

Police arrested 36 people after protesters hurled bottles at officers as scuffles broke out in Hyde Park.

Tensions have risen over the last week after the Met Police faced a severe backlash for its response at a vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common, during which four people were arrested.

Meanwhile, MPs passed the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on Tuesday, which gives extra powers to police forces to clampdown on protests.

People taking part in an anti-lockdown protest in central London. Picture date: Saturday March 20, 2021.
People taking part in an anti-lockdown protest in central London. (PA)

During Saturday's protest, Fox stopped for an interview and criticised the police, saying: “It’s despicable, they’re not paid to stop our peaceful right to protest.

“We live in a democracy, we don’t live in a place where they shut us down. It’s not right, it’s not what they’re paid for, it’s not what we want from them. They need to police crime, not this.”

Read: Have your say: If you'd known lockdown would last a year, would you have done anything differently?

The Lewis actor said if he was mayor he would "unlock this town, unlock this country".

Fox later tweeted that Britons are “living in a police state” and shared footage of officers trying to restrain a protester as one appeared to kick him.

Watch: Protesters march against lockdown restrictions in London

He wrote: "You are living in a police state. By accident or by design. That is what you are living in. Our liberty is not your property."

He also made a jab at opponent and current mayor Sadiq Khan, saying: “Definitely not an Extinction Rebellion protest in @SadiqKhan London.

“This is the policing tier applied to politically incorrect protests. They save the knee for more ideologically worthy ones.”

While some people on Twitter shared Fox’s anger over how police have responded to protests in recent weeks, many were left unimpressed with his comments.

Sue Chadwick wrote: “The police deserve a medal for dealing with this every weekend in London. The majority of us wonder why you can’t find an alternative form of exercise.”

Police detain a man as people take part in an anti-lockdown protest in Trafalgar Square, central London. Picture date: Saturday March 20, 2021.
Police detain a man as people take part in an anti-lockdown protest in Trafalgar Square. (PA)

Another posted: "As Europe is facing a third wave of covid infections... This seems really counter productive and stupid tbh."

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Roman Schatz added: "They of course have the right to protest, but I love the irony of a bunch of morons chanting 'take back our freedom' while they are all, freely chanting and walking around (mostly without masks as well). Maybe think of a better chant."

In another tweet, a follower said: "Doctors and nurses are heroes. These people are not, they are achieving nothing."

Watch: Met Police chief says she will not step down