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Protesters stage Oxford Street protest against Topshop owner Sir Philip Green

Published 14/05/2016

Sir Philip Green is the owner of Topshop
Sir Philip Green is the owner of Topshop

London's busiest shopping street ground to a halt as activists demonstrated against billionaire Topshop owner Sir Philip Green and his company's practices.

Protesters stopped traffic, scuffled with police and blocked the entrances to several shops in the demonstration which was billed as part of the campaign for a real living wage.

At its height the protest attracted around 150 activists, with crowds holding banners and standing in the middle of London's Oxford Circus, leaving traffic at a standstill for around 20 minutes.

Beginning outside the Topshop's flagship store, protesters stood in the road blocking buses and cars whilst chanting "Topshop, shame on you".

The group then marched down Oxford Street, rushing towards the entrance of a John Lewis store where police scrambled to stop them entering and faced off with several protesters.

The demonstration was arranged by living wage campaigners United Voices of the World union (UVW), who claim two Topshop cleaners have been "victimised and bullied" for joining their organisation.

UVW said the cleaners, dubbed the Topshop Two, had been initially suspended and one has since been sacked.

In recent weeks Sir Philip has come in for widespread criticism after BHS collapsed, months after he sold the company for £1, putting 11,000 jobs at risk and leaving a £571 million pension fund deficit.

Aysan Dennis, from protest group Class War, told the Press Association: "We want our voices heard. This is a class war."

Asked why she was blocking traffic she said, pointing at Topshop. "I don't care. The tax dodgers are the real criminals."

Masked members of Class War lit red smoke bombs as bemused shoppers watched on.

Teresa Grey, from UVW, said the group took to the streets to "make their voices heard".

She said: "Two Topshop cleaners joined our union. For that, one was sacked, the other suspended."

Asked where they were marching to, she said: "No idea. We're just marching."

As the group diminished, they gathered outside Marble Arch Topshop, forcing the store to close its shutters leaving dozens of shoppers locked inside for around 15 minutes.

Protesters stood outside the store, continuing to chant and bang drums before marching back down Oxford Street towards the first Topshop.

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