Alleged “Tax-Cheating Scrounger” says that “The occupation of the Fortnum & Mason store earlier this year by protesters against Government cuts encouraged this summer’s rioters and looters”
His comments reflect the views of a number of retailers who believe that a change in police tactics after the death of a bystander in the disturbances surrounding the G20 summit in London in 2009 encouraged the looting.
Last month, the chief executive of Oliver Bonus said he felt the police had let retailers down by not acting more quickly.
“I fully understand the necessity for peaceful protest. But it was allowed to get well out of control. Police have had to do a horrible job over the last year, constrained by these old laws of peaceful protest,” Sir Philip told The Sunday Telegraph in his first public comments on the riots.
“You can’t have people walking around wearing masks. It is not peaceful protest when people are sitting in doorways stopping people from getting into shops or gluing themselves to our shop windows.”
The retailer welcomed what appeared to be a return of “good, old-fashioned policing”. “That has got to be a good thing,” he said.
Sir Philip was targeted by protesters after agreeing to advise the new Government on efficiency measures. Yet despite the disruption to his business, Sir Philip said he had no regrets about the decision to get involved.
“I don’t think it is a case of regret or don’t regret. If you get a call from the Prime Minister asking you can you help and you think you can, why would you say no?” he said.
“I still believe that many of the issues I pointed out were basic efficiencies,” he added.
Sir Philip was speaking as he opened his second flagship store in the US last week. He revealed that he now plans to open 15 stores in the country.