Veterans minister Johnny Mercer is facing calls to be prosecuted by police, after placing one foot on a war memorial a day after the UK Government announced it would be banning people from climbing on monuments.
The proposal, revealed alongside planned bans on pyrotechnics and wearing face coverings to conceal one’s identity, will apply to England and Wales and carry a three-month prison sentence and £1,000 fine if the new Criminal Justice Bill passes through parliament.
A government press release says the move comes “after recent incidents where individuals have broken away from large protests and scaled national monuments, demonstrating brazen disrespect to those who have given their lives for this country”.
James Cleverly, the home secretary, added: “Recent protests have seen a small minority dedicated to causing damage and intimidating the law-abiding majority.
“The right to protest in paramount in our county [sic], but taking flares to marches to cause damage is not protest, it is dangerous.
“That is why we are giving police the powers to prevent any of this criminality on our streets.”
Alongside the news story, the @10DowningStreet Twitter/X account put out some hard-hitting graphics making it clear that “climbing on war memorials” is “now an offence” and that from Thursday, “if you climb on monuments, you will be fined or imprisoned”.
“Nobody should be allowed to climb or damage our war memorials,” it reads.
It’s not entirely accurate that the action is “now an offence”, though, as the UK Government itself notes the measures “will be introduced as amendments at the report stage” of the Criminal Justice Bill, which is still making its way through the Commons and isn’t even law yet.
Anyway, all of this has been brought up again after the Conservatives’ official Twitter/X account shared photos on Friday morning of Mercer and the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, running around Plymouth, with one snap showing Mercer placing one foot on the side of a war memorial known as the Commando Gunner Memorial.
The account wrote: “Prime Minister Rishi Sunak went for an early-morning run with Johnny Mercer in Plymouth today. They took a moment to read some of the names of British heroes on the Commando Gunner memorial.”
But fellow Twitter/X users were quick to point out the blunder:
Others noted how convenient it was that a photographer just so happened to be about to capture them on the jog:
indy100 has approached Johnny Mercer’s parliamentary office for comment.
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