Occupy London: City Of London Wins Bid To Evict Protesters From St Paul's (Live Blog)


First Posted: 18/01/2012 13:47 Updated: 18/01/2012 20:28

The City of London Corporation has won its High Court bid to evict anti-capitalist protesters from outside St Paul's Cathedral.

After a five day High Court hearing, which finished just before Christmas, Justice Lindblom ruled at about 2.30PM on Wednesday that the City had won the case.

An application for an appeal by the lawyers working for Occupy was turned down by the judge.

The eviction will now be suspended for seven days while Occupy's lawyers go directly to the Court of Appeal.

John Cooper QC, acting pro bono for Occupy, said that appeal would be made on Thursday.

He added after the hearing the case was the "start of a legal analysis as to the extent of public protest in this country".

He also said that his clients had "grave concerns" that St Paul's had passed evidence to the City of London without entering itself as a party in the case.

One of the protesters, Tammy Samede, said that Occupy had won the moral argument "hands down".

St Paul's "have supported the city of London's case even though they have not entered themselves as parties in this case" she said, labelling them "shameful and cowardly".

In his judgment Justice Lindblom told the court that there were a number of "powerful considerations" pointing to the outcome for which the City contended.

He said that the City's decision to take legal action was "neither precipitate nor ill-considered".

"I am satisfied that the City had no sensible choice but to do what it has.

"Conscious of its duties under statute, it gave the defendants an ample opportunity to remove the protest camp without the need for time and money to be spent in legal proceedings."

Referring to the protesters, he said: "Whilst I recognise that this outcome will be disappointing to the defendants, I wish to pay tribute to all who participated in the hearing for the courteous and helpful way in which they conducted themselves."
However the City now had the right to remove the tents, he said.

"We're going to ask for an appeal," the spokesperson said. "It was 50/50, we didn't know what to expect."

"The judge said the city had the right to evict us from areas one and two, but there was no mention of the areas that belong's to St Paul's."

"People are disappointed but we are also positive that whether or not we are evicted we will survive. Occupy is more them the camp, its an idea."

In a statement Stuart Fraser, the City of London Corporation's policy chairman, said:

"We took this action to clear the tents and equipment at St Paul's. We hope the protesters will now remove the tents voluntarily. If not, and subject to any appeal proceedings, we will be considering enforcement action.

"Lawful protests are a regular part of City life but tents, equipment and increasingly, quite a lot of mess and nuisance, is not what a highway is for and the public generally is losing out, as evidence before the court made clear."

The corporation had argued there was an "overwhelming" case for the court's intervention because of the impact on the area of the camp, which has been in place since October 15, and the risk that it would continue indefinitely.

John Cooper QC, for Occupy LSX, had argued that the impact on the area had been exaggerated.

Occupy said it did not prevent worship at St Paul's and any impact it did have on on those visiting, walking through or working in the vicinity was not solely detrimental.

They said that politicians, members of the public and commentators had expressed support for the camp's presence and the sentiments behind it, at a time when there was a consensus that the issues it raised needed addressing.

Protesters had called for a "ring of prayer" to be formed at the camp in "an act in a spirit of love towards all concerned" if the decision goes against them.

Others have called for no-violent resistance as the group vowed to fight on.

At St Paul's one protester, wearing a black hood and white mask, held up a sign reading: "Whatever. We have won."

Others responded calmly to the news, saying the eviction would not affect the message of the movement.

Elijah Olig, 18, from Australia, has lived at the camp since October 27 and said he would continue to protest elsewhere.

"I don't react negatively or positively to it, it has come about after a long string of verdicts and either way we are going to be moving on.

When asked if he thought the eviction of the churchyard would mirror the violent scenes seen at Zuccotti Park in New York, Olig said:

"I wouldn't see it getting violent here. This is one of London's most common marketplaces and I think it would be a really rash move for the police to come in and kettle us in front of families and children. ... We would peacefully resist but not with violence."

The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, commenting on the ruling, said: "Whatever now happens as a result of today's judgment, the protest has brought a number of vital themes to prominence.

"These are themes that the St Paul's Institute remains committed to exploring and, now through London Connection, we want to ensure they continue to have a voice.

"Bishops cannot have all the answers to what are complex economic problems. What we can do, however, is broker communications and make sure that a proper connection between finance and its ethical and moral context is found."

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Symon Hill, associate director of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, said: "This is bad news for the many Christians and many others who been supporting the Occupy movement.

"Many Christians are alarmed that St Paul's have supported the eviction, albeit via the back door by giving evidence to support the City of London Corporation.

"I will be one of the many Christians who will helping to form a ring of prayer around the camp should the evictions go ahead."

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John Cooper QC, acting pro bono for Occupy, said the appeal would be made tomorrow.

He added after the hearing the case was the "start of a legal analysis as to the extent of public protest in this country".

He also said that his clients had "grave concerns" that St Paul's had passed evidence to the City of London without entering itself as a party in the case.

One of the protesters, Tammy Samede, said that Occupy had won the moral argument "hands down".

St Paul's "have supported the city of London's case even though they have not entered themselves as parties in this case" she said, labelling them "shameful and cowardly".

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@ Scriptonite : #occupylsx @OccupyLSX so,judge rules occupy be evicted from St pauls and refuses appeal. given 7 days to take own case to court of appeal...

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At St Paul's one protester, wearing a black hood and white mask, held up a sign reading: "Whatever. We have won."

Others responded calmly to the news, saying the eviction would not affect the message of the movement.

Elijah Olig, 18, from Australia, has lived at the camp since October 27 and said he would continue to protest elsewhere.

"I don't react negatively or positively to it, it has come about after a long string of verdicts and either way we are going to be moving on.

"We have Finsbury Square and UBS, there are multiple places where we reside already. Whatever happens, we will do something positive.

"A victory or a loss wouldn't change anything about the movement. We've already achieved what we set out to accomplish, which is to get the conversation topic on people's tongues and raise awareness. We are trying to get our community back together and we have still accomplished something."

When asked if he thought the eviction of the churchyard would mirror the violent scenes seen at Zuccotti Park in New York, Olig said: "I wouldn't see it getting violent here. This is one of London's most common marketplaces and I think it would be a really rash move for the police to come in and kettle us in front of families and children...

"We would peacefully resist but not with violence."

Jake Lampard, 16, from Leyton, east London, has been coming and going from the site for the past two months.

He said: "I hope we can find places to stay or ways around it but I think they want to get rid of us before the Olympics. We are not a real threat to the government but they need a pretty city when everyone comes to see us.

"This is what I stand for and I think if I sat at home doing nothing about it, then I wouldn't have any morals or any backbone."

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@ Scriptonite : #occupylsx @OccupyLSX City: ask for five days only Judge: 7 days is reasonable...will city undertake to suspend eviction for 7 days?

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The judge has turned down Occupy's request for an appeal, saying that he did not see a "realistic chance for success".

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Images taken today:

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The QC for Occupy London has asked for permission to appeal and for a seven-day window before the eviction is enforced.

In reply the City has said that it will only give Occupy three days - enough time to lodge an appeal.

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The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, commenting on the ruling, said: "Whatever now happens as a result of today's judgment, the protest has brought a number of vital themes to prominence.

"These are themes that the St Paul's Institute remains committed to exploring and, now through London Connection, we want to ensure they continue to have a voice.

"Bishops cannot have all the answers to what are complex economic problems. What we can do, however, is broker communications and make sure that a proper connection between finance and its ethical and moral context is found."

Via PA

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@ OccupyLondon : We're asking you twitter: Which one: #PlanA - stay & resist #PlanB - devolve & spread to each borough of London or #PlanC find a new target

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@ OccupiedTimes : City will not enforce order which has immediate effect for three days.

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The City of London Corporation is now asking for an order to preempt the erection of any new tents or structures.

Meanwhile in a statement Stuart Fraser, the City of London Corporation’s Policy Chairman, said:

"We took this action to clear the tents and equipment at St Paul’s. We hope the protesters will now remove the tents voluntarily. If not, and subject to any appeal proceedings, we will be considering enforcement action.

"Lawful protests are a regular part of City life but tents, equipment and increasingly, quite a lot of mess and nuisance, is not what a highway is for and the public generally is losing out – as evidence before the court made clear."

"A Planning and Transportation Committee meets on 31 January and will consider the judgment. More details here later."

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@ ccdavies : The #occupylsx judgment gives the City powers to remove any tents that are not voluntarily removed

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The judge told the court that there were a number of "powerful considerations" pointing to the outcome for which the City contended.

"And in my judgment, when the balance is struck, the factors for granting relief in this case easily outweigh the factors against.

"The extent and duration of the obstruction of the highway, and the public nuisance inherent in that obstruction, would itself warrant making an order for possession and granting injunctive and declaratory relief.

"So too would the effect of the camp on the Article 9 rights of worshippers in the cathedral. So would the effect on visits to the cathedral. So would the other private nuisance caused to the Church. So would the planning harm to which I have referred.

"Adding all of these things together, one has, I think, an unusually persuasive case on the positive side of the balance."

He said that the proposed interference with the protesters' rights was "entirely lawful and justified" as well as necessary and proportionate.

"Withholding relief at this stage would plainly be wrong. The freedoms and rights of others, the interests of public health and public safety and the prevention of disorder and crime, and the need to protect the environment of this part of the City of London all demand the remedy which the court's orders will bring."

He said that the City's decision to take legal action was "neither precipitate nor ill-considered".

"I am satisfied that the City had no sensible choice but to do what it has.

"Conscious of its duties under statute, it gave the defendants an ample opportunity to remove the protest camp without the need for time and money to be spent in legal proceedings.

"It has, I believe, behaved both responsibly and fairly throughout."

Referring to the protesters, he said: "Whilst I recognise that this outcome will be disappointing to the defendants, I wish to pay tribute to all who participated in the hearing for the courteous and helpful way in which they conducted themselves."

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@ TomSkyNews : Source at City of London corporation tells me they are keen to make sure we don't see tough New York style #occupy evictions

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@ Scriptonite : #occupylsx City: hopes protesters will accept conclusion and leave with dignity....sighs all round

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To pick over what Occupy just told us:

"The judge said the city had the right to evict us from areas one and two, but there was no mention of the areas that belong's to St Paul's."

That refers to this map, on which you can see a small green area near St. Paul's which is not owned by the city.

Is it possible Occupy may try to stay on this area?

Update: The City of London has apparently addressed this in court in a pre-emptive attempt to stop the protesters moving to the other area.

The judge responds that there is "practical good sense" in that idea.

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We've just spoked to Spiro, Occupy's spokesman.

"We're going to ask for an appeal," he said. "It was 50/50, we didn't know what to expect."

"The judge said the city had the right to evict us from areas one and two, but there was no mention of the areas that belong's to St Paul's."

"People are disappointed but we are also positive that whether or not we are evicted we will survive. Occupy is more them the camp, its an idea."

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Some Occupy protesters have already vowed to stay until they're "dragged off".

In the court, Tammy Samede has thanked the City of London for its "good behaviour" in the court, and has asked them to behave better outside it.

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@ alburyj : #occupylsx mic checks ringing around court "no matter what they say about #occupy, our behaviour has been better than those we are fighting"

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@ alburyj : Judge states that he believes #occupylsx causes significant obstruction & nuisance and doesnt believe pressing need outweighs this. #olsx

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Justice Lindblom has said that he "cannot adjudicate on merits of the protest", and while he accepted the "good intentions" of the protesters the City was now entitled to remove the tents from the site.

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@ alburyj : @occupylsx Judge states that he accepts city is entitled to injunction which it seeks.

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@ Scriptonite : #occupylsx judgement is that City of London is entitled to an order 4 possession for immediate eviction @OccupyLSX

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The City of London Corporation has won its High Court bid to evict anti-capitalist protesters from outside St Paul's Cathedral.

This is from the Press Association.

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@ Scriptonite : Judge reading summary of judgement available on judiciaries website #occupylsx

We will link to that summary as soon as we have it.

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@ OccupyLSX : And we begin

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We're not inside the RCoJ ourselves, but our various sources report that the tension is building as the decision on Occupy London's right to stay at St Paul's is delayed.

There are up to 100 people inside the courtroom, and sources are reporting that things are getting "rowdy".

It also looks as though both sides are likely to appeal whatever the decision - so don't expect an orderly clean-up by tonight if things go against the protest. This looks set to run and run.

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@ JamieKelseyFry : @OccupyLSX crowd growing outside as are amount of media http://t.co/6QwfwMqm

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Want to catch up on what's happened with Occupy over the last few weeks and months? Check out our Big News page, which contains most of the best pieces we've written and published since October.

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