Labour MPs express solidarity with Dawn Butler after police car stop

Elliot Chappell

Labour MPs have expressed solidarity with Dawn Butler MP after she described how she had been the victim of “racial profiling” when stopped by the police while travelling through London in a car.

Her parliamentary colleagues reacted to reports from the Labour MP for Brent Central on social media, who told how she had been stopped by the Metropolitan Police on Sunday afternoon while driving through Hackney.

Shadow Northern Ireland minister Karin Smyth took to Twitter and described it as “typical of Dawn Butler to both call out the problem and use her experience to help others make the change”.

Shadow cabinet members David Lammy and Jon Ashworth also tweeted their support for the MP. Lammy sent “love and prayers” to Butler while Ashworth wrote: “Awful. Solidarity Dawn Butler.”

LabourList has requested comment from the Labour Party and from Keir Starmer’s office, but has been referred back to Butler by the party and not received a response from the leadership.

Update, 1.48pm: Labour leader Keir Starmer has tweeted: “I reached out yesterday to @DawnButlerBrent to discuss the incidence she reported and to offer our support. All allegations of racial profiling must be taken extremely seriously by the Metropolitan police.

“It is imperative that the Black community have trust and confidence in our police. The abuse Dawn has received over social media is wrong and must be condemned.”

Other colleagues such as Nadia Whittome contacted the MP expressing their concern for her wellbeing, while Virendra Sharma MP wrote: “Solidarity with Dawn. The police everywhere need to learn lessons with some humility.”

In response to the incident, former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott tweeted: “This is so unsurprising. When will the Metropolitan police give up on racial profiling? #BlackLivesMatter.”

Ilford South MP Sam Tarry shared footage of Butler discussing the incident with Channel 4 and described it as a “must see interview”. In the video clip, Butler said: “The Met Police is systematically racist and it needs to change.”

Commenting on the backlash Butler has seen on Twitter since speaking out about the incident, Stella Creasy MP declared: “The savagery of response to Dawn Butler highlighting her experience of stop and search is horrific – it is on all of us to stand up to that and ensure she can work with the police to address these concerns.”

Wes Streeting said: “Dawn isn’t looking for your sympathy. She’s highlighting real issues about use of stop and search and the way in which it is undermining confidence in an important policing tool and the Met itself – especially among black communities.”

In footage of the police stop recorded by Butler, officers said that they were searching the area because of “gang and knife crime”. The Labour MP said later that “it’s obviously racial profiling”.

She told the Press Association: “We know that the police is institutionally racist and what we have to do is weed that out. We have to stop seeing black with crime. We have to stop associating being black and driving a nice car with crime.”

In an interview with Sky News, Butler said: “It is tiring and exhausting and mentally draining if you’re black and getting treated like that. Yes there are issues, but deal with it in an equitable way, in an unbiased way, not in a racist way.

“If you’re profiling cars because they’re not from the area that’s a ridiculous way to police. If you’re stopping cars because of the make that’s a ridiculous way to police. And if you’re stopping cars because of the colour of the people inside them, that’s racist.”

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that an officer had “incorrectly entered the registration into a police computer which identified the car as registered to an address in Yorkshire”.

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