London

Parliament Square protesters lose eviction appeal

  • 16 July 2010
  • From the section London
Protest camp
The protesters are angry about the Afghan war

Peace protesters camping in London's Parliament Square have lost their legal battle against eviction.

The Court of Appeal has upheld an eviction order against the group, which is protesting about several issues, including the Afghanistan war.

London Mayor Boris Johnson who took legal action to evict the demonstrators, said he was "delighted".

Solicitors representing the protesters said the demonstrators would not appeal against the decision.

"This is part of a much wider protest," said protest organiser Chris Knight. "We're not going very far and we're not going away."

'Leave peacefully'

The protesters transformed the green in central London with tents and flags and called it Democracy Village.

Critics say the square has been vandalised and other groups have been unable to use it for protests.

There were also concerns about public health owing to the lack of toilet facilities.

Making the ruling, Lord Neuberger said that while the Crown owned the title to the land, the Mayor of London had the power to act over the square.

Lord Neuberger said of the protesters: "They have been allowed to express their views and assemble together at the location of their choice for over two months on an effectively exclusive basis.

"It is not even as if they will necessarily be excluded from mounting an orthodox demonstration at Parliament Square Gardens in the future."

The mayor urged the protesters to "respect the rulings of both courts" and now leave the site peacefully.

Mayor Mr Johnson said: "I think it's wonderful that as a city we can protest.

"But it is nauseating what they are doing to the lawn."

He continued: "It's become too much. It's doing serious damage to a world heritage site."

Mr Johnson added: "Police will have to do this [evict the protesters] in a way that does not recall the G20 protests and all the argy bargy - it will be difficult.

"We won't be brutal, we won't be thuggish."

Last month's eviction orders from the High Court were delayed pending an appeal to three judges.

The protesters' counsel Jan Luba QC argued Mr Johnson had no right to evict the demonstrators because he did not own the land, which belongs to the Queen.

But the mayor's QC, Ashley Underwood, said Parliament Square Gardens was an open space which the public had a right to use, and that the judge had reached a reasoned decision.

A "delighted" Colin Barrow, leader of Westminster City Council, said: "This decision will mean that ordinary Londoners and visitors can once again use the square."

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