Man jailed for urinating at PC Keith Palmer police memorial during violent protests in London

Ross McGuinness
·4 min read

A man has been jailed for urinating next to the PC Keith Palmer memorial during violent far-right protests in London.

Andrew Banks, 28, from Manor Road in Stansted, Essex, pleaded guilty to outraging public decency at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday and was sentenced to 14 days in custody.

The court heard Banks had drank up to 16 pints between Friday evening and Saturday morning.

An image of Banks urinating next to the memorial to PC Palmer, the officer stabbed to death in the 2017 terror attack near Parliament, was widely shared on social media on Saturday.

It followed violent clashes that day between police and far-right protesters who claimed to be guarding statues in central London.

Pedestrians walk past the unveiled permanent memorial to PC Keith Palmer, the police officer killed in the March 22, 2017 Westminster terror attack, outside the Houses of Parliament in London on February 22, 2019. PC Keith Palmer was fatally stabbed as he stood guard in front of Britain's Houes of Parliament in Westminster on March 22, 2017 by Khalid Masood after the 52 year-old convert to Islam drove into pedestrians at high speed near parliament, killing four other people. (Photo by Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A man has been jailed after he urinated at the memorial to PC Keith Palmer in London (Getty Images)

Prosecutor Michael Mallon said Banks was in central London to “protect statues” but admitted he did not know which ones.

Banks was said to have drunk 16 pints across Friday night and Saturday morning, and had not slept.

He contacted police after being confronted by his father, the court heard, and Banks’ counsel Stuart Harris said the defendant was “ashamed by his action” and had mental health issues. He had previously tried to take his own life, the court heard.

The court was told Banks was “very remorseful” and did not know there was a memorial nearby.

Chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said he had caused “public revulsion” and told the Tottenham Hotspur fan: “I accept you were drunk and did not know where you were urinating.

A court artist's sketch of Andrew Banks, right, who pleaded guilty to outraging public decency (PA)
A court artist's sketch of Andrew Banks, right, who pleaded guilty to outraging public decency (PA)

“Your explanation is you had 16 pints to drink, you hadn’t been to bed, and a group of football supporters were coming up to protect the monuments.

“The irony is rather than protecting the monuments, you almost urinated on one. That was more by luck than judgment.

“You showed no respect at the time for a man killed while protecting the Houses of Parliament.”

The photo was widely condemned by politicians, including Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, who gave first aid to PC Palmer as he lay dying after being stabbed in the grounds of Parliament by Khalid Masood in 2017.

Ellwood tweeted the photo, writing: “Absolute shame on this man.

Read more: Boris Johnson says it is 'absurd' Churchill statue is 'at risk of attack'

“Of all the images to emerge over these few testing days, I find this one of most abhorrent.”

Commander Bas Javid of the Metropolitan Police described the image as "disgusting and abhorrent", while home secretary Priti Patel referred to the "desecration" of PC Palmer's memorial, and said it was "absolutely appalling and shameful".

Police are confronted by protesters in Whitehall near Parliament Square, London, during a protest by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance against a Black Lives Matter protest.
Police are confronted by protesters claiming to defend statues in central London on Saturday. (PA)

A total of 113 people were arrested on Saturday at the London protest, and the violence was condemned by Boris Johnson as "racist thuggery" and described as "mindless hooliganism" by police.

Saturday's far-right demonstration took place after thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters marched in multiple events sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of white police officers in the US last month.

Floyd's death has prompted weeks of discussion and outrage about racism and colonialism in the UK.

On Sunday, Johnson announced plans for a cross-government commission to examine "all aspects" of racial inequality in Britain in the wake of two weeks of Black Lives Matter protests.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the prime minister acknowledged that the country had much more to do to deal with the issue.

Read more: Former PM’s statue boarded up over fears it will be confused with slave trade advocate

He said the commission on race and ethnic disparities would look at "all aspects of inequality – in employment, in health outcomes, in academic and all other walks of life".

Johnson said: "What I really want to do as prime minister is change the narrative so we stop the sense of victimisation and discrimination.

"We stamp out racism and we start to have a real expectation of success. That's where I want to get to but it won't be easy."

Police are confronted by protesters in Whitehall near Parliament Square, London, during a protest by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance against a Black Lives Matter protest.
Police are confronted by protesters in Whitehall near Parliament Square, London, on Saturday. (PA)

A statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square was boarded up due to vandalism during an anti-racist protest.

Members of Saturday's far-right demonstration, which was attended by several hundred mostly white men, claimed to be guarding the statue of Churchill as well as the Cenotaph.

However, the event turned violent after hundreds of self-proclaimed "statue defenders" took over areas near the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square and hurled missiles, smoke grenades, glass bottles and flares at police officers.

The prime minister’s previous tweets about Churchill's statue were branded a "deflection" by shadow justice secretary David Lammy.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said he was "extremely disturbed" by the "completely unacceptable" scenes of violence on the streets on Saturday.