West End theatres were abandoned to the football mob, Britain’s leading producers have claimed, saying the Government scored an “own goal” by allowing mass crowds to gather.
Ahead of the Euro 2020 final on Sunday, crowds rampaged through Leicester Square and other areas of central London.
England fans clambered on to the glass canopy of the Grade II-listed Wyndham’s Theatre, causing tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of damage.
Families queuing to see productions across the West End were intimidated and showered with beer.
In a letter to The Telegraph, Lord Lloyd-Webber, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Sonia Friedman, Nica Burns and Michael Harrison accused the Government of failing in its duty to protect the city.
While British theatre had done everything in its power to comply with regulations and keep audiences safe, the group said, the Government had allowed mass crowds to gather and harmed chances of economic recovery.
The shameful scenes in Leicester Square were mirrored by fans at Wembley on Sunday. Nineteen police officers were injured.
The letter reads: “The scenes we have recently witnessed outside Wembley Stadium and in city centres across the country, with the police seemingly overwhelmed, are horrifying.
“No attempt was made to save West End theatres from mob rule, as seen clearly in the photos of drunken crowds smashing the beautiful glass canopy of Wyndham’s Theatre and throwing beer at queues of people waiting to go into socially distanced performances.
“The Government has a duty to protect its city centres, never more so than at the present when their recovery is in intense jeopardy.
“For over a year, we in the commercial sector have demonstrated every possible measure to the Government to keep our audiences safe. We have subsidised government pilots that proved our point.
“By allowing mass crowds to gather in the way they have in the last few weeks, the Government has spoken volumes about its priorities. This is an own goal with the Government’s core voters and a huge disservice to the British public and our chances of economic recovery.”
Scotland Yard defended itself against criticism of policing around the Euro final.
A source said that the Met had been warning for weeks that the lack of an official “fan zone” in the West End would lead to problems, because there was nowhere for supporters to congregate.
The source said: “We were left in the middle, having to deal with a very difficult situation, because there was no plan in place to accommodate the large numbers heading into central London for the game.”
Dame Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, backed her officers. Speaking at an investiture ceremony at St James’s Palace, where she was honoured for services to the public, she said: “There will be a full debrief, of course. There’s an awful lot of inaccurate speculation about what happened at the moment.
“I’m very proud of my officers and the command team.”
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said the Met had his full support and blamed the trouble on “hooligans from outside London”. Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of the Football Association, criticised “drunken yobs” for trying to force their way into Wembley stadium without tickets.
Meanwhile, Jane Connors, the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner, said officers had responded quickly and with bravery.
She said: “I do not accept that the policing operation failed and I stand by the difficult decisions made by police officers and the Met’s public order commanders.”
Police moved in swiftly at Wembley when it became clear that stewards were overwhelmed, she said, and “without their immediate intervention, it is possible that this game could have been abandoned”.
Read Lord Lloyd-Webber’s letter in the letters section on The Telegraph website