The Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea sparked outrage from more than 100 anti-Israeli campaigners who swarmed Kensington Town Hall last night in an electrifying protest.
Each year the Royal Borough holds a party for diplomats who are based in the Royal Borough. But an invitation given to the Israeli ambassador to the party in Cllr Joanna Gardner's lavish Mayor's Parlour prompted dramatic scenes at the Hornton Street administrative centre last night.
In scenes reminiscent of last month's embassy protests, scores of police officers protected the building from pro-Palestine campaigners and residents, who braved pouring rain in an attempt to disturb the mayoral party
Shouts and screams echoed up Hornton Street, Kensington, and across the central library forecourt, as protestors yelled into loud speakers. Chants from the crowd, who included both pensioners and youngsters, blasted town hall officials for harbouring 'criminals.'
The party cost about £4,000 and was paid for from the mayoral budget, which is set by the council as the beginning of the financial year.
Cllr Pat Mason (Lab) called the protest 'a first' and said that members from a Golborne family had been killed in the recent fighting in Gaza.
But Kensington and Chelsea Council defended the party, pointing out that it is an annual reception held to encourage community relations with the numerous embassies in the Royal Borough.
An official statement said: "The Mayor of the Royal Borough holds a reception each year for Ambassadors and High Commissioners who are based in Kensington and Chelsea. Over 90 Heads of Mission are invited.
"The Royal Borough has never sought to make any distinction between the countries represented at the reception."