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Festive reprieve for St Paul's camp


Occupy London protesters on the steps of the High Court

Occupy London protesters on the steps of the High Court

Occupy London protesters on the steps of the High Court

A High Court judge gave protesters camping outside St Paul's Cathedral the chance to celebrate Christmas under canvas when he postponed a decision on whether to evict.

Mr Justice Lindblom said he would not rule on a local authority's eviction application before January 11.

Protest organiser Occupy London said it would host a "Potluck Christmas Day Banquet" and try to create a "dream" Christmas based around "community, not consumerism".

Local authority the City of London Corporation suggested that protesters should take the opportunity to have a "happy Christmas" then leave peacefully and avoid any need for eviction.

Mr Justice Lindblom reserved judgment after a five-day hearing at the High Court in London.

The City had argued that there was an "overwhelming" case for the court's intervention because of the impact on the area of the camp - which has been in place since October 15 and has up to 150 tents - and the risk it would continue indefinitely.

Protesters had fought the eviction bid and questioned whether "citizens" should be "stymied" when exercising their legal rights of assembly and expression.

Occupy London said after the hearing that a "Potluck Christmas Banquet" would start at noon on Sunday and include "other frolics". "All are invited to bring food, games, decorations and instruments," said a spokesman. "Help us to create the kind of Christmas you've always dreamed of - a celebration based around community, not consumerism."

Barrister David Forsdick, for the City, had told the court that the delay in judgment gave protesters the chance to celebrate Christmas then make a dignified departure. He said: "There is an opportunity now for the camp to have a happy Christmas and then leave peacefully and with dignity before enforcement becomes necessary."

Cathedral officials said protest organisers had given an "assurance" that Christmas services would not be disrupted.

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