Protest march passes off peacefully
A protest march by a far-right group and a counter demonstration by anti-fascists passed off largely peacefully after a huge police operation.
An estimated 2,000 supporters of the English Defence League (EDL) gathered in Blackburn, Lancashire, for a march and rally in the town centre.
A short distance away, a separate counter-demonstration by around 500 people was held by Unite Against Fascism (UAF).
Hundreds of police, some drafted in from as far away as Cumbria, along with mounted officers and steel barriers, kept the two sides apart.
Around 12 arrests were made for minor public order offences, according to Lancashire Police.
Previously, some EDL and UAF counter protests have passed of peacefully but others have ended in major disorder as demonstrators clashed.
Trouble did flare-up at the EDL rally when skirmishes broke out amongst supporters, with one man knocked unconscious from a punch, and coins and a pint glass were thrown.
These were clashes between the main body of support and a more extreme splinter group, according to Tony Curtis, an EDL spokesman and event organiser. "Once we got rid of the troublemakers it got better. It was a good demonstration," he said.
Bob Eastwood, divisional commander for eastern division at Lancashire Police, said: "Although there were minor scuffles amongst the EDL demonstrators, there was no significant disorder. The events have passed mostly without incident and I would like to thank the local community for their help and tolerance during the events and the lead up to them.
"All our officers and staff should also be commended for their efforts, as well as those who have worked alongside us from other organisations, in particular Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, community volunteers, marshals and mediators. The aim of the policing operation was to allow for peaceful protests which we have demonstrated is possible through careful planning and successful communication at all levels."