Terror police investigate deepfake of Sadiq Khan dismissing Remembrance Day

Defence and security Policy & Politics Technology

Counter-terrorism police are investigating a deepfake of Sadiq Khan dismissing the importance of Armistice Day that has been shared by far-right groups on social media.

In the fake clip shared on TikTok the mayor of London is portrayed as proposing to postpone Remembrance weekend so that the pro-Palestinian protest can go ahead in the capital.

A version of the video that has been shared widely on TikTok and X (formerly Twiitter)  shows a red poppy on a black and white field under a “Lest We Forget” headline with an AI creation of Khan’s voice. Another shows a photo of the mayor, with the fake audio stating: “Like I just said, and this is a private conversation, the prime minister meeting with [Sir] Mark [Rowley, commissioner of the Met police] yesterday is a complete waste of time.

“The buck stops with me, Mark reports to me. I know we have Armistice Day on Saturday but why should Londoners cancel the Palestinian march on Saturday? Why don’t they have remembrance weekend next weekend?

“What’s happening in Gaza is much bigger than this weekend and it’s current.”

Another deepfake of Khan being shared on TikTok begins: “I don’t give a flying shit about the Remembrance weekend”.

It continues: “What’s important and paramount is the one million-man Palestinian march takes place on Saturday,”

The anonymous poster asks “is this for real or AI?”

A spokesperson for the mayor said the video has been “circulated and amplified” by far-right groups on social media ahead of tomorrow’s march in London calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza war.

“The Met and their counter terror experts are aware of this fake video that is being circulated and amplified on social media by far-right groups, and are actively investigating,” said the spokesperson.

Posting on social media, Sadiq Khan wrote: “While I hosted an interfaith Remembrance event with our armed forces at City Hall: the far-right were sharing deepfake audio about me.

“They may have new means, but their ends are the same – to divide our diverse communities. We must stand together – it’s what London does best.”

Tensions have been ramped up by the prime minister’s and home secretary’s interventions ahead of tomorrow’s protest with Rishi Sunak saying it would be “provocative and disrespectful” to hold a march on Armistice Day.

Suella Braverman has called the pro-Palestinian protests “hate marches” and caused a furore that threatens her position as home secretary after publishing an article accusing the police of favouring the demonstrators over far-right groups.

The deepfake of Khan follows a spate of such incidents, highlighting concerns about the threat to democracy posed by AI technology. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was targeted last month by a video in which he appeared to abuse party staff. BBC newsreader Fiona Bruce and other high profile figures have also been victims of deepfakes.

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