There were scenes straight out of Monty Python playing out in London this weekend, as members of a far-right nationalist group attempted to perform a ‘citizens arrest’ on the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan.
Mr. Khan was due to give a speech at an event hosted by the Fabian Society, a left-leaning thinktank, on Saturday, but instead found himself interrupted by a group of six men who had wheeled with them a homemade gallows (noose included) emblazoned with a white dragon and the words ‘TAKE BACK CONTROL’.
The leader of the men was identified as Davey Russell—a relatively high profile member of the English Defense League—and it was he who led the charge on the arrest attempt, striding to the front of the auditorium and interrupting the mayor after his first two words. Russell proclaimed: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we are here today to make a peaceful, nonviolent citizen’s arrest of those named.’ The named being Mr. Khan and Kate Green, a Labour MP, also present and chairing the event.
According to the Washington Post, following Russell’s pronouncement,
Khan took a drink of water, sat down and looked at the men. He said nothing.
“Could I ask security to lead the gentlemen out, please?” Green said.
A guard walked over to Russell, who seemed to have been expecting a challenge.
“We are under common law jurisdiction!” Russell cried. “If you touch us, you will be done for common assault. We’re not leaving.”
Russell and his cadre of Pendragons (as they later clarified they wished to be called) had alerted the police prior to their stunt, and by all appearances genuinely expected them to go along with Russell’s masterplan. When those same police then arrived and instead began to escort him from the event, he switched tactics, saying:
I paid for a ticket! Do not touch me! We have paid for a ticket. . . . Okay, so we want the money back for the ticket then. We cannot be reimbursed for the ticket. We cannot be reimbursed!
At one point during the proceedings Russell accused Khan of subverting British law, though without providing any explanation as to how. When questioned by a reporter on what authority they planned to arrest the mayor of London, the Pendragons cited the Magna Carta.
Mr. Khan, Europe’s first Muslim mayor, seemed entirely unphased by the ordeal, patiently waiting for the Pendragons to be escorted outside by the police, and after resuming his speech with:
It’s a pleasure to be here. Even though we were distracted by the actions of what some would call very stable geniuses.
Once ejected by the police, Russell and the Pendragons asked for a refund for their tickets.