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Sadiq Khan in row as public barred from ‘secret’ knife crime meetings

Sadiq Khan was today at the centre of row after two City Hallmeetings about knife crime were held in “secret”.
Editors at BBC, Sky News and ITN made an unprecedented joint complaint to the Greater London Authority after press and public were barred from an emergency meeting of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee yesterday.
It had been called to quiz the Mayor and Met chiefs on a surge in street violence which has seen more than 50 murders so far this year in the capital.
The Mayor’s knife crime summit on Tuesday, with Met commissioner Cressida Dick and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, was also held in secret.
GLA officials claimed the meetings were subject to “purdah” restrictions on party-political publicity in the run-up to the May 3 town hall elections.
They have offered to release a video of yesterday’s meeting after May 3.
The broadcasters said the decision to hold the meetings in private was “astonishing” given the public concern about violent crime.
They claim the GLA had misinterpreted the rules on pre-election publicity.
Mr Khan is understood to have been personally in favour of allowing press and public access. A spokeswoman said he was “disappointed” at the ban.
The letter, from Michael MacFarlane of the BBC, Hannah Emerson-Thomas from ITN and Peter Lowe of Sky News, said: “We can think of no precedent whereby access is denied in this manner.
“Public access to a meeting of the [police committee], where the Mayor is being held to account on an important issue, is not ‘publicity’ but proper scrutiny.
“It is quite astinishing that you should come to the conclusion that such a meeting should be kept out of the public domain for more than three weeks.”
Jeff Jacobs, the GLA’s top official, said the rules meant “public forums” might have to be closed “to avoid breaching legal restrictions”.
He said the Mayor and politicians had been free to give media interviews after the meetings.