OVER the years, I’ve got used to people disagreeing with me. It comes with the territory if you are prepared to publicly express strong opinions, and I’m fine with that because I believe in the power of debate.

But, try as I might, I’ve only found one person so far who’s disagreed with my perspective on the police’s handling of the protests in London that followed the murder of Sarah Everard.

If you’ve read the newspaper front pages and social media, you’d have been left with the impression that the vast majority of people believe the police got it badly wrong and should hang their heads in shame.

But that’s not an accurate reflection of public opinion. In fact, a YouGov survey showed that 53 per cent of the population – including 50 per cent of women – supported the stance taken by the Metropolitan Police.

I’m convinced that, in this country, we have a silent majority of people, with bags of common sense, who don’t want to take to social media, so we are left with a distorted perception of what’s right and wrong.

Of course, what has happened to Sarah is extremely sad. The fact that the man arrested on suspicion of killing her is a police officer makes it all the more disturbing. But the bottom line is that the mass gathering in the middle of a pandemic was against the law, and the police have an absolute duty to uphold the law without fear or favour. That’s what they did and it’s absurd to suggest that the Met Commissioner Cressida Dick should resign over it.

We’ve had another example of the silent majority with the reaction to Piers Morgan daring to state that he didn’t believe a word of what Meghan Markle said in the Oprah Winfrey interview. TV regulator Ofcom has received a record 57,000 complaints. So what? There were millions watching and it’s entirely possible that the complaints could have been organised on social media to again give a false impression.

Nobody really knows the truth – apart from Meghan and Prince Harry. Piers Morgan doesn’t know either, but he’s got every right to say what he believes. So have you and so have I.

We’ve got to be very careful to keep it all in perspective. It’s OK to make your point – whether it’s by writing to your MP, expressing a view on social media, or sending a letter to a newspaper – but it’s not OK to break the law, and impact on other people’s lives, in doing so.

The Metropolitan Police were doing their jobs by upholding the law. If the law’s wrong, that’s for the Government to sort out, but the police can only uphold the laws of the land.

If there was a mistake it was in not taking similar action in Glasgow when Rangers fans gathered to celebrate winning the league. That said, people make mistakes, and the police are no exception. That doesn’t mean it has to be blown up into a gender issue, and we have to be very careful to avoid it becoming an anti-men crusade. We should be anti-nasty people and pro-fairness, not anti-men.

Mass public protests are wrong because they are a form of blackmail. Those taking part are attempting to force their views on others, and when that leads to civil disobedience, what option do the police have?

l John Elliott MBE is the founder of dehumidifier and washing machine manufacturer Ebac, of Newton Aycliffe