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Security tight as far-right protesters meet anti-fascist demonstrators

Around 50 EDL protesters made their way from a pub near Trafalgar Square to a rally on the Victoria Embankment.

Far-right English Defence League demonstrators were met by anti-fascist groups amid a heavy police presence as they marched through central London.

Around 50 EDL protesters made their way from a pub near Trafalgar Square to a rally on the Victoria Embankment on Saturday afternoon.

Some members of the group were carrying banners and St George’s Cross flags, while others covered their faces as they chanted “EDL” and “Whose streets? Our streets.”

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(David Mirzoeff/PA)

They were met with cries of “Nazi scum, off our streets” as officers kept them separated from anti-fascist groups, including Unite Against Fascism (UAF), who were holding a counter-demonstration on the Embankment some 50 metres away.

EDL speakers made reference to recent deadly terror attacks in Manchester and London.

One was greeted with cheers as he said if the Islamist attacks continued: “I’ll be the first white suicide bomber in England.”

But tensions died down as EDL demonstrators talked among themselves in smaller groups while music played within a metal cordon, surrounded by police.

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(David Mirzoeff/PA)

On Friday, Scotland Yard said it was taking action under public order laws over the marches planned for Saturday “due to concerns of serious public disorder, and disruption to the community”.

Superintendent Emma Richards said: “We have made the decision to impose conditions based on current tensions and concerns, information about the intentions of the organisers of these events and intelligence from previous marches held by similar groups.”

Rules laid down by police mean the EDL march is only allowed to legally take place for 90 minutes from 1pm. The counter-demonstration by UAF is allowed to take place on the Victoria Embankment only between 12.30pm and 3pm.

EDL marchers were greeted by more counter-protesters as dozens of police officers escorted them along a pre-planned route to Charing Cross Station.

Members of one rival group scuffled with police as they came within yards of the far-right group. One man, who was dressed in black, was detained by officers as the march continued with the voices of the EDL drowned out by anti-fascist chants.

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