No evidence clip of Sadiq Khan supposedly calling for ‘Remembrance weekend’ to be postponed is genuine

10 November 2023
What was claimed

An audio clip is a recording of London mayor Sadiq Khan saying ‘Remembrance weekend’ events should be postponed in favour of a pro-Palestinian protest.

Our verdict

There is no evidence this clip is genuine or that Mr Khan said this. His office says the audio is a fake and that police are now investigating.

There is no evidence to suggest that a viral audio clip, which appears to be a recording of the Mayor of London suggesting “Remembrance weekend” could be postponed in favour of a pro-Palestinian march, is genuine. 

A video including the audio clip, which was shared on 10 November by multiple accounts on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter), features a photograph of Mr Khan alongside a voice which says: “The Prime Minister meeting with Mark yesterday is a complete waste of time.” (‘Mark’ appears to be a reference to Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley.) 

The clip continues: “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.”

Longer versions of the clip begin with Mr Khan saying “this is a private conversation”, giving the impression the recording was made when the Mayor was speaking to at least one other person. 

The clip has prompted strong reactions from some social media users who appear to believe it is real. 

We’ve not been able to determine whether the clip was generated with artificial intelligence, edited in some other way or is of an impersonator, but we’ve not seen any evidence to suggest it is real. There are no specific clues in the clip itself, such as identifiable background noise or names used, which would enable it to be verified, and we’ve found no credible reports verifying the clip’s authenticity. 

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London told Full Fact: “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.”

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Service said: “We can confirm that we have been made aware of a video featuring artificial audio of the Mayor, and that this is with specialist officers for assessment.”

The comments in the clip do not align with those recently shared by Mr Khan on social media, when he described the Remembrance commemorations as "a hugely important part of our national calendar". 

We’ve not been able to confirm who created the clip, but it appears to have been posted on TikTok by at least one account as early as 9 November. 

Misinformation spreads quickly online so it’s especially important to consider whether something is likely to be genuine before sharing.

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Technological challenges

Definitively proving that a non-specific and unattributed audio clip has been faked is difficult. The emergence of clips like these is exposing the increased challenges of verification posed by new technology and the challenge of ensuring an effective and proportionate response by social media platforms on such content.

Last month we fact checked claims that a similarly unverified audio clip supposedly captured the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer swearing at his staff. Again, there was no evidence that this was genuine and both Labour sources and Conservative MPs said the clip was faked.

At the time, Mike Russell, founder of the audio production firm Music Radio Creative and a certified audio professional with more than 25 years of experience, told Full Fact it is “impossible to confirm 100%” whether such clips have been generated by AI. 

“It remains very difficult to confirm deepfakes with total certainty… we're rapidly approaching a point where audio can no longer be trusted as factual evidence with the rise of AI synthesis,” he said. 

Image courtesy of the Mayor of London

Correction 15 November 2023

The article was updated to correct a typo.

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