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Anti-fascist protesters ‘provoked violence’

Anti-fascist protesters have been blamed by police for provoking the violence which broke out as a controversial organisation campaigning against the spread of Islam attempted to hold a rally.

Several people were hurt, including at least two police officers, and 74 people were arrested as the group Unite Against Fascism (UAF) protested on Saturday against the English Defence League (EDL) rally in Bolton, Lancashire.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, from Greater Manchester Police (GMP), accused UAF supporters of deliberately inciting violence and attacking officers who were trying to keep the two sides apart.

“We have seen groups of people, predominantly associated with the UAF, engaging in violent confrontation,” he said.

“It is clear to me that a large number have attended with the sole intention of committing disorder and their actions have been wholly unacceptable.”

Mr Shewan was also critical of the EDL which he condemned for flag-waving and “vitriolic name-calling”.

A spokesman for the anti-fascist contingent, however, denied there had been any intention to cause violence and said the police had been hostile from the start.

“They sent riot squads into a peaceful demonstration and that's how the violence happened,” he said. “We don't accept the police account at all.”

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