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Cleric quit over camp violence fear

The chancellor of St Paul's has said he resigned because he feared plans to evict anti-capitalist protesters camped on the cathedral's doorstep could lead to violence.

Canon Dr Giles Fraser, who has been sympathetic to the protesters, said he could not tolerate the possibility of an eviction similar to that at the illegal travellers' site at Dale Farm in Essex.

Dr Fraser quit following proposals that the church join forces with the Corporation of London to take legal action in a bid to remove the Occupy London Stock Exchange camp.

Dr Fraser told the BBC: "I resigned because I believe that chapter was set on a course of action that could ultimately lead to violence, to eviction, to protesters being forcibly moved on. I think it's about the church using violence in order to protect itself and that's something that I believe that it shouldn't do."

Dr Fraser denied there was any bitterness with the dean and chapter. He told the Guardian: "Nobody was a villain in this, it has been a matter of conscience for everyone."

The news came as the cathedral said it would reopen on Friday, a week after it closed for the first time since the Second World War.

St Paul's will open in time for the Eucharist service at 12.30pm, which will include a special prayer for the protesters, a cathedral spokeswoman said.

She said staff have resolved the safety concerns over the camp which caused the closure. Its dome and galleries will remain closed "for the time being" but the cathedral itself will be open to worshippers and visitors.

The cathedral's dean, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, said officials were considering all options in response to the protest, including the courts. The City of London Corporation, the local authority for the Square Mile, will meet on Friday to hear legal advice and decide whether to launch eviction proceedings.

But the demonstrators vowed to remain, saying they found the threat of court action "very worrying".


From Belfast Telegraph