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Mayor wins Parliament protest fight

The mayor of London has won his latest bid to evict veteran peace campaigner Brian Haw from Parliament Square Gardens.

Mr Haw, who is being treated for lung cancer in Germany, was not at London's High Court on Thursday but his co-protester Barbara Tucker immediately said she would appeal against the decision.

The ruling will not come into force pending any application to appeal, which must be lodged by 4pm on March 28.

Last July, demonstrators in the makeshift camp known as Democracy Village had to leave the historic site after the Court of Appeal backed possession orders granted to mayor Boris Johnson by Mr Justice Griffith Williams.

But it remitted the question of whether it was reasonable and proportionate to enforce them against Mr Haw, whose long-standing presence on the pavement on the east side of Parliament Square was not challenged, except for his encroachment on to a small adjoining part of the gardens where he had pitched a tent.

Granting an order for possession and an injunction against Mr Haw and Ms Tucker, Mr Justice Wyn Williams said: "As is apparent from this judgment, I have concluded that the claimant has adduced substantial evidence which justifies the conclusion that the making of orders in this case is proportionate."

In his ruling, the judge said the mayor had established that the activities of Mr Haw and Ms Tucker constituted an interference with the rights of others and there was a pressing social need which justified the making of the orders.

He added that members of the public were precluded from using the occupied area, and the protesters ought not to be permitted to occupy it indefinitely when they were trespassers "notwithstanding the fact that significant numbers of people may support the aims and objects of their protest".

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: "The mayor is pleased that the High Court has supported previous rulings to return possession of Parliament Square Gardens to the Greater London Authority (GLA)."

The leader of Westminster Council, Councillor Colin Barrow, said: "We welcome the court's decision that Brian Haw should be evicted from Parliament Square Green and hope that this is the first step in reclaiming the square for all. As we have always maintained, we support the right of peaceful protest, but we do not agree that this world heritage site should become a permanent campsite when it should be enjoyed by all Londoners and visitors to Westminster."

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