Occupy London activists take over Old Street courthouse

Occupy London banner at Old Street Magistrates Court Occupy London demonstrators want to hold show trials in the disused Old Street Magistrates Court

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Members of the Occupy London protest have taken over the disused Old Street Magistrates Court in the city.

The group said they would stage "trials of the 1%" in the courthouse, the site of their fourth occupation.

The building, just over a mile north of St Paul's, has been empty since 1996.

A case to evict the protesters is being heard in the High Court after Occupy London ignored a City of London Corporation order to clear tents from the space outside St Paul's Cathedral.

The group first set up camp outside the cathedral on 15 October, before setting up a second camp in Finsbury Square weeks later.

The group then took over an empty office building owned by the Swiss Bank UBS on Sun Street, Moorgate, in November.

'Defecation and drugs'

A statement from the group said: "As Occupy London Stock Exchange occupation prepares to present its case at the High Court today, Occupy London supporters have liberated a disused courthouse, Old Street Magistrates Court, in London's East End alongside a group of military veterans, Occupy Veterans.

"The opening of Occupy London's fourth occupation will see the movement conducting 'trials of the 1%' in the abandoned magistrates court building which has lain empty since 1996, despite its prime location and Grade II listing."

A four-day High Court hearing over the eviction of protesters camped outside St Paul's Cathedral began on Monday, with the presiding judge visiting the camp during the evening.

Lawyer David Forsdick told the court on Monday that the protest had attracted "vulnerable people".

The City of London Corporation (CLC) has complained of "defecation" and "drugs" at the camp.

Occupy protesters, who are campaigning against corporate greed, said many of the claims were without basis.

The protesters are expected to start reducing the size of the camp in the new year.

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