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Clashes as far-right and anti-fascist demonstrators march in London

 

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Former spokesman and leader of the English Defence (EDL) LeagueTommy Robinson in Trafalgar Square in London, during a counterprotest by UAF (Unite Against Fascism) against Britain First and EDL marches. PA

Former spokesman and leader of the English Defence (EDL) LeagueTommy Robinson in Trafalgar Square in London, during a counterprotest by UAF (Unite Against Fascism) against Britain First and EDL marches. PA

PA

Former spokesman and leader of the English Defence (EDL) League Tommy Robinson in London, during a counterprotest by UAF (Unite Against Fascism) against Britain First and EDL marches. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 1, 2017. See PA story PROTEST Terror. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Former spokesman and leader of the English Defence (EDL) League Tommy Robinson in London, during a counterprotest by UAF (Unite Against Fascism) against Britain First and EDL marches. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 1, 2017. See PA story PROTEST Terror. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

PA

Police officers detain a UAF (Unite Against Fascism)demonstrator in Trafalgar Square in London, during a counterprotest against Britain First and EDL (English Defence League) marches. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 1, 2017. See PA story PROTEST Terror. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Police officers detain a UAF (Unite Against Fascism)demonstrator in Trafalgar Square in London, during a counterprotest against Britain First and EDL (English Defence League) marches. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 1, 2017. See PA story PROTEST Terror. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

PA

Former spokesman and leader of the English Defence (EDL) League Tommy Robinson argues with a protestor (right) in London, during a counterprotest by UAF (Unite Against Fascism) against Britain First and EDL marches. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 1, 2017. See PA story PROTEST Terror. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Former spokesman and leader of the English Defence (EDL) League Tommy Robinson argues with a protestor (right) in London, during a counterprotest by UAF (Unite Against Fascism) against Britain First and EDL marches. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 1, 2017. See PA story PROTEST Terror. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

PA

Former spokesman and leader of the English Defence (EDL) League Tommy Robinson seeks protection from the police near Trafalgar Square in London, during a counterprotest by UAF (Unite Against Fascism) against Britain First and EDL marches. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 1, 2017. See PA story PROTEST Terror. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Former spokesman and leader of the English Defence (EDL) League Tommy Robinson seeks protection from the police near Trafalgar Square in London, during a counterprotest by UAF (Unite Against Fascism) against Britain First and EDL marches. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 1, 2017. See PA story PROTEST Terror. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

PA

UAF (Unite Against Fascism)demonstrators tussle with police officers in Trafalgar Square in London, during a counterprotest against Britain First and EDL (English Defence League) marches. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 1, 2017. See PA story PROTEST Terror. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

UAF (Unite Against Fascism)demonstrators tussle with police officers in Trafalgar Square in London, during a counterprotest against Britain First and EDL (English Defence League) marches. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 1, 2017. See PA story PROTEST Terror. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

PA

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Former spokesman and leader of the English Defence (EDL) LeagueTommy Robinson in Trafalgar Square in London, during a counterprotest by UAF (Unite Against Fascism) against Britain First and EDL marches. PA

Protesters have clashed in London as tensions ran high between far-right groups and anti-fascist demonstrators.

A march and rally planned by Britain First and the English Defence League (EDL) - described as a "march against terrorism" - took place near a counter-demonstration by Unite Against Fascism (UAF).

Frantic scenes unfolded when ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson arrived and dozens of police officers moved to contain potential trouble.

Mr Robinson was confronted by people who held opposing views and officers escorted him away as he told people they "hate free speech".

UAF protesters chanted "EDL go to hell" as protesters spilled on to the road.

Scotland Yard said 14 people had been arrested as of 4pm, for "various offences", and confirmed that all those arrested were "from counter protest groups".

Met Police Events tweeted: "They were made as some Counter Protesters engaged in criminality & did not comply with conditions imposed by S.14 of the Public Order Act 86."

In a separate tweet, police referred to counter protesters who were "wearing masks & involved in criminality".

As the UAF march made its way down Whitehall, police lined the route and as a skirmish broke out a medic could be seen dealing with someone on the ground.

Police kept the opposing factions away from each other along Embankment, manning barriers about 100m apart, and Britain First supporters listened to a speech - apparently protected by their own security guards - before marching through the roads shouting "terrorist scum off our streets".

On a Facebook event page, Britain First said "all patriots welcome to attend", while the EDL said on an event page: "After the vile terrorist attack on parliment we will stand together and show we will not now, not ever bow down and fear terrorists and terrorism. join us to show our strength."

The event took place just over a week after Westminster terrorist Khalid Masood's murderous rampage left four people dead.

Crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square from around midday under conditions imposed by the Metropolitan Police which included following a particular route in a bid to keep the opposing groups apart.

The Met said on Friday that the information and intelligence available meant that they felt it necessary to impose the conditions to prevent the demonstrations from resulting in "serious disorder, serious damage to property, serious disruption to the life of the community, and to prevent the intimidation of local people trying to go about their business".

Chief Superintendent Catherine Roper said: "The right to protest is a fundamental right in our democratic society, but this right must be balanced against the right of people to go about their day without fear of violence, disorder or disruption.

"Experience has shown us that when groups with conflicting views come together it can create tension and disorder, not just on the day itself but in the longer term.

"What we have had to carefully consider is how to balance the right to protest with the negative impact on our communities and potential violence and disorder that may have resulted from these protests going ahead as they were suggested.

"If you want to protest on Saturday, we ask that you do so peacefully, no matter what your view. We will adopt a robust arrest policy on anyone who attends and is intent on violence and disorder, or is in breach of these conditions."

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