St Paul's Occupy protesters urged to remove tents

  • 1 November 2011
  • From the section London
Media captionKeith Doyle says the rain has failed to move protesters off the site, as the authorities had hoped

Protesters will be told to remove their tents from outside St Paul's Cathedral or face legal action.

The City of London Corporation is expected to issue a letter soon warning High Court action will follow unless the camp is cleared within 48 hours.

The Occupy London Stock Exchange (OLSX) protesters said they were preparing to respond to any legal moves.

Meanwhile Home Secretary Theresa May called on the authorities to work together to move on the protesters.

She said: "What I want to see is the church authorities and the Corporation of London and the police working together to ensure that the protesters can be moved as soon as possible."

St Paul's and the City of London Corporation announced on Friday they would try to obtain separate High Court injunctions to clear the 200-tent Occupy London camp.

'Peaceful resolution'

The camp has been outside the cathedral since 15 October. People taking part are protesting against inequality and corporate greed in the City.

Fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood visited the camp on Monday night with her sons, Ben Westwood and Joseph Ferdinand Corre, her spokeswoman said.

The church partly reopened on Friday after being closed on health and safety grounds.

A spokesman for St Paul's said it was not taking joint action with the council.

It said: "The chapter have not yet sought an injunction, nor are they serving notices on the protesters today [Tuesday].

"They are committed to a peaceful resolution at all costs."

Members of the chapter are expected to meet the Bishop of London Richard Chartres later, the spokesman added.

The BBC's Religious Affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said now the bishop was "taking over" he expected the church to take a harder line.

"He [the bishop] said he didn't intend to soften the line, he intends to shift, in his own words, the attention from the camp to the economic situation and I think probably try to put a bit more moral pressure on the people outside the cathedral and to make them take more responsibility," said the correspondent.

Image caption The Right Reverend Graham Knowles said his position was untenable

He said besides taking legal action and clearing the site, the church had to be seen to be taking the argument forward in a more resolute way.

Similar camps have been set up elsewhere in the UK as part of the Occupy movement that has spread from New York since September.

In Bournemouth, protesters are camped in front of the town hall while tents have been set up in Glasgow city centre's George Square and Birmingham's Victoria Square.

The row in London claimed another victim on Monday as the Dean, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, resigned.

His departure - after he said his position was "untenable" - followed those of Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Giles Fraser and part-time chaplain Fraser Dyer.

Meanwhile, City of London Corporation officials have been discussing the details of the eviction notice at a meeting in the Guildhall in the City.

Ian Chamberlain, 27, from OLSX, said: "They have to serve that notice and give us 48 hours so there is room for us to respond with legal action or whatever.

'Punishes the many'

"Our invitation for dialogue is still there. Liberty offered to facilitate a meeting to have dialogue with the Corporation of London and they haven't responded yet.

"We will stay here right until the end and explore legal options to respond to any eviction notice we do receive."

The Occupy London movement issued a statement saying it was about "social justice, real democracy and challenging the unsustainable financial system that punishes the many and privileges the few".

It added: "The management of St Paul's Cathedral is obviously deeply divided over the position they have taken in response to our cause - but our cause has never been directed at the staff of the cathedral."

On Monday night a number of OLSX protesters set up a small camp near the Tate Modern on the South Bank.

The Metropolitan Police said a small group of protesters had moved to the area at about 03:30 GMT and an appropriate number of officers were at the scene.

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