FORMER Labour MP Ed Balls has been branded a “joke” as he claimed the police must have had “intelligence” prior to arresting anti-monarchy protesters at the coronation.

Balls was presenting Good Morning Britain when it was put to him by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell that there was “no justification or excuse” for the arrest of protesters holding “Not My King” placards and that they were “treated like terrorists”.

The former MP replied: “I mean Peter is right that if they were arrested for holding placards that would be a terrible thing.

“It can’t be the case that Peter’s right about that. There must have been intelligence they [the Met Police] had about what the plan was.”

Many took to Twitter to criticise Balls, with one user writing: “I am absolutely f***ing done with people like @edballs who keep saying the police ‘must’ have had intelligence.

“They didn’t. They manufactured excuses to destroy a protest and silence any dissent. Labour’s first leader was a republican. These people are a joke.”

Balls served as the MP for Morley and Outwood before losing his seat at the 2015 General Election to Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns.

Another Twitter user added: “I think that more people are getting tired of this, and hopefully times are changing.”

This comes after the chief of leading anti-monarchy group Republic, Graham Smith, told the BBC that arrests were “premediated”.

Commander Karen Findlay of the Met Police said the force’s “first priority” was to “ensure that the tens of thousands who travelled into London, and millions more around the world, were able to enjoy a safe, secure and dignified coronation”.

The commander confirmed 52 arrests were made and added: “We absolutely understand public concerns following the arrests we made this morning.

“Protest is lawful and it can be disruptive. We have policed numerous protests without intervention in the build-up to the coronation, and during it.

“Our duty is to do so in a proportionate manner in line with relevant legislation. We also have a duty to intervene when protest becomes criminal and may cause serious disruption.

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“This depends on the context. The coronation is a once in a generation event and that is a key consideration in our assessment.

“A protest involving large numbers has gone ahead today with police knowledge and no intervention.”