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City wins bid to evict protesters

The High Court has backed the City of London Corporation's bid to evict anti-capitalist protesters from outside St Paul's Cathedral.

Granting orders for possession and injunctions against Occupy London, Mr Justice Lindblom said that the proposed action was "entirely lawful and justified" as well as necessary and proportionate.

He refused permission to appeal although the protesters have seven working days to renew their applications directly to the Court of Appeal - and the City agreed not to enforce the orders until 4pm on January 27 pending such a move, which is to be launched tomorrow.

The corporation had said there was an "overwhelming" case for the court's intervention because of the impact on St Paul's Churchyard of the semi-permanent camp, which has been there since October 15.

The limited interference with the protesters' rights entailed in the removal of the tents was justified and proportionate, given the rights and freedoms of others.

Their lawyers told the judge - who made a private visit to the site before Christmas - that the camp had acted as a magnet for disorder and crime in the area, impacted on worshippers, affected trade, and caused waste and hygiene problems.

In his ruling, the judge said that there were "powerful considerations" in favour of granting the orders.

"Withholding relief at this stage would plainly be wrong. The freedoms and rights of others, the interests of public health and public safety and the prevention of disorder and crime, and the need to protect the environment of this part of the City of London all demand the remedy which the court's orders will bring."

John Cooper QC, for the protesters, said outside court: "This is an important judgment. It marks the start of a legal analysis as to the extent of protest in this country. What Occupy have done is push the boundaries of public law on protest."

Protester Tammy Samede added that she would continue to "peacefully protest". "This is not the end," she said. "Onwards and upwards."

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