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Rival protesters come to blows

Rival protesters clashed outside the Palace of Westminster, as BNP supporters and anti-fascist campaigners came to blows.

At least one man, a BNP activist, suffered a large cut to the nose after initially fierce shouting from either side of gated barriers spilled into violence.

Dozens of police sought to break up the disorder after the chanting escalated. Police sniffer dogs were also deployed to help calm the situation, as tempers flared.

One BNP supporter who was injured in the scrap said: "I've put my best suit on today and come out for a peaceful demonstration and this is what's happened. And to think they call us thugs!"

The fighting came despite calls for peace from police and the family of soldier Lee Rigby, who was hacked to death in Woolwich last month in what police are treating as a terrorist attack.

The BNP had planned to march from Woolwich Barracks, but were banned from doing so by Scotland Yard, amid community fears that their presence could prompt disorder. Around 100 people gathered on Old Palace Yard, clutching BNP banners and calling for "hate preachers out". A short time later, counter protesters began directing chants at them, calling them "fascist scum", "you racist Nazis".

About 300 members of counter protests from Unite Against Fascism gathered at the scene and were told by police to move to Whitehall Gardens to avoid confrontation with members of the BNP. Events were also planned in various locations across the country by the English Defence League.

Scotland Yard said that by just after 5pm there had been 58 arrests for breach of Section 14 of the Public Order Act, adding: "These are part of the United Against Fascism protest."

On Friday, the family of Drummer Rigby stressed that the young soldier would not have wanted violent attacks to be carried out in his name, and urged protesters to remain peaceful.

In a statement released through the Ministry of Defence, members of Drummer Rigby's family including his mother Lyn, stepfather Ian, wife Rebecca and son Jack, said: "We would like to emphasise that Lee would not want people to use his name as an excuse to carry out attacks against others. We would not wish any other families to go through this harrowing experience and appeal to everyone to keep calm and show their respect in a peaceful manner."


From Belfast Telegraph