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

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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.

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."