Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Bailiffs move in on peace camp at London's Parliament Square Gardens

Bailiffs have moved in to evict peace protesters camping in London's Parliament Square Gardens

Bailiffs have moved in to evict peace protesters camping in London's Parliament Square Gardens, police said.

Demonstrators in the makeshift camp known as Democracy Village lost a Court of Appeal battle to stay there last week.

A police spokesman said officers from the Metropolitan Police Service were on standby at the square to prevent a breach of peace and to deal with any crime. "They are there in a supporting role to High Court enforcement officers who are currently carrying out an operation to evict those residing on the grassed area of the square."

One witness said: "The eviction is happening right now. There are about 60 bailiffs and lots of police here."

Last month, High Court judge Mr Justice Griffith Williams granted orders sought by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, but their enforcement was delayed pending an appeal to Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger, Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Stanley Burnton.

Counsel Jan Luba QC argued that the mayor had no right to evict the demonstrators because he did not own the land, which belongs to the Queen, and had failed to prove any legal title to it.

Even if Mr Johnson could bring the proceedings, a court could not order possession because it would be incompatible with laws relating to rights to free speech and assembly, said counsel.

But the mayor's QC, Ashley Underwood, said Parliament Square Gardens was an open space which the public had a right to use and that the judge reached a reasoned decision.

He said there was a pressing social need not to permit an indefinite camped protest on the site for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others to access.

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