Faked audio of Sadiq Khan dismissing the importance of Armistice Day events this weekend is circulating among extreme right groups, prompting a police investigation, according to the London mayor’s office.
One of the simulated audio clips circulating on TikTok begins: “I don’t give a flying shit about the Remembrance weekend,” with the anonymous poster going on to ask “is this for real or AI?” in an effort to provoke debate.
The mayor’s office believes the audio clips are generated by artificial intelligence software, and are keen to publicise them before marches due in London at the weekend so the public will be able to recognise them as fake.
The doctored Khan audio continues by describing a planned pro-Palestine march due to take place tomorrow in glowing terms, albeit with an unusual, slightly clipped grammar. “What’s important and paramount is the 1 million-man Palestinian march takes place on Saturday,” the clip continues.
A march calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza is due to take place in London on Saturday, starting at Marble Arch at noon an hour after the traditional Armistice Day two-minute silence, and it is scheduled to run towards the US embassy south of the Thames near Battersea, some distance from the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
Although it is expected to be well attended, the “million man” reference in the fake audio is clearly intended to refer to the 1995 Million Man March, a civil rights demonstration in Washington attended largely by African American men – a phrase almost certainly calculated to provoke rightwing extremists.
A second faked clip, shared by an account called EDL Worcester among others, begins with the fake Кhan asserting his authority over the Met police – before making the unlikely suggestion that the Armistice Day commemorations be postponed.
The fake Khan says: “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.”
Although the wording of the clips is too extreme to be plausible, both do reflect the intonation of the London mayor’s voice, demonstrating the level of online fakery that can be achieved. Neither of the clips features any video; the second simply has a photo of Khan with the caption: “Please everybody repost this. Get him out.”
The mayor’s office remains relatively confident that the Metropolitan police will be able to maintain overall public order on Saturday, but its most particular concern is that far-right groups have sought to mobilise supporters for a counterprotest.
A spokesperson for the mayor’s office said: “The Met and their counter-terror experts are aware of these fake videos that are being circulated and amplified on social media by far-right groups, and are actively investigating.”