protest

Thousands of people blocked the road as they gathered outside the US Embassy in London last Sunday
The author of best-selling political book 'The Madness of Crowds' has slammed authorities as hypocrites for allowing mass anti-racism protests while still urging Britons to stick to social distancing rules.

Controversial author Douglas Murray said that while 'everybody in the UK has to lock down', thousands are permitted to gather for protests across the UK sparked by the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in the US.

Floyd was killed when a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds despite Floyd's desperate pleas that he 'can't breathe'.

He passed out and later died in Minneapolis on May 25.

His death is seen as a symbol of systemic police brutality against African-Americans sparking outrage and largely-peaceful protests across the US.

Demonstrations have since developed into world-wide anti-racism protests with thousands crowding the streets of London last weekend.

He told The Sun: 'We have been through weeks indeed months in Britain - as in other countries in the lockdown - of people being told they mustn't visit their parents or they mustn't go for a sunbathe on their own in the middle of a park.'

He added: 'We aren't allowed to have gatherings in our houses, we're not allowed to meet friends, we're now allowed to have tea with up to six people in our gardens if we're fortunate enough to have one.

'Oh, but the exception is if a Minneapolis police officer does something appalling and utterly reprehensible and then you can come out in the thousands, so there's an exemption.'

His statement comes ahead of demonstrations planned in Parliament Square in London on Saturday and the US Embassy in the capital the next day.

An estimated 4,000 people are expected to attend a demonstration in Bristol, which will include a march through the city to Castle Park on Sunday, Avon and Somerset police said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday urged Black Live Matters protesters not to gather in groups larger than six because Covid-19 'remains a real threat'.

She wrote on Twitter: 'Please for the safety of all of us, do not attend large gatherings - including protests - of more than six people this weekend.

'As Matt Hancock said, coronavirus remains a real threat and people must protect themselves and their families from this horrific disease.'

Her statement echoed that of Health Secretary Matt Hancock who yesterday said he was 'appalled' by the death of Mr Floyd, but stressed that the UK was still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remained a 'real threat'.

Mr Hancock told the daily Downing Street briefing on Friday he could understand why people were 'deeply upset', but said people in the UK should not attend large gatherings.

He added: 'Like so many I am appalled by the death of George Floyd and I understand why people are deeply upset but we are still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remains a real threat.

'The reason that it is vital that people stick to the rules this weekend is to protect themselves and their family from this horrific disease.

'So please, for the safety of your loved ones, do not attend large gatherings including demonstrations of more than six people.'