Huffpost UK
Michael Rundle Headshot

Occupy London: 'Known Paedophile' Found Wandering Camp At St Paul's

Posted: Updated:

A "known paedophile" has been seen wandering around the tents at the Occupy London camp outside St Paul's Cathedral, activists said.

The man was chased away, the group said, but his presence illustrates the growing numbers of vulnerable and potentially dangerous people clustering at the camp.

The incident was revealed in the minutes of Occupy's latest general assembly meeting, where around 20 people gathered on Tuesday 7 February to discuss the operation of the long-running protest.

In a discussion relating to vulnerable people at the camp, one protester named as Jules said:

"Two days ago we ran a known paedophile off site. We’re not going to tolerate three-strikes when you’re a known paedophile. We’re not giving these people three strikes, if someone is running round camp with a knife, we have to cart him off."

The City of London Police said they were not initially aware of the incident, but would check for more information.

Follow up calls to an Occupy spokesperson revealed only that they were "not aware" of any more details about what happened, or about who the "known paedophile" was - or if the police were called.

However spokesperson Spyro said that homeless and vulnerable people were a feature at the camp, and that a welfare group had been in operation for months to try and help.

"I'm not aware of that incident, but we have to bear in mind that it is a very stressful period for people who have been involved, especially for people who have been camping," Spyro said.

He said there was "a team who are qualified counsellors and psychologists to provide a much help to those who need it".

He also added that as eviction day potentially moved closer it was more likely that the proportion of those "with nothing to lose" would grow larger.

"If you have nothing to lose you definitely try to stay as long as possible," he said.

The minutes of the 7 February meeting also revealed that a man described as "incompetent" and "drunk" has been interrupting meetings, "spraying wee outside the pitch" and has slept in his tent "in urine-soaked clothing".

"This is a very immediate issue," one protester was reported as saying. "I walked in to a meeting while he pulled out his cock and had a wee in front of anyone with ladies present. Not good, indecent exposure. He’s now done it again today."

"What can we do to help this person?" asked another member of the assembly.

"Stop him drinking," replied another.

The camp said there will be a meeting of the 'Tranquility' working group on Thursday to discuss the safety of the area.

"We’re the biggest camp in Britain and have had zero rapes, least number of assaults. Sometimes we mess up but most of the time we do a good job," one member said.

Occupy organisers sent an 'open letter' to the City of London Corporation and its outgoing policy chair Stuart Fraser asking for consideration to be paid to the vulnerable members of the protest in the event on an eviction next week.

"Many people now residing at OccupyLSX are vulnerable in some way," the letter said.

"A substantial section of this community face losing their homes. A night-time eviction would compound an already stressful situation and make it harder for fellow occupiers and professionals to offer vital support."

The application to challenge last month's High Court decision to allow an eviction will be heard by three judges on 13 February.

The city has said it will not enforce the court order until the appeal case has been heard.

Occupy said that it had made plans to protect valuable equipment and education resources, but that it was still down to individuals whether to leave before the eviction or to stay and be removed by force.

"There are different views on whether we should stay or leave," spokesperson Spyro said. "It comes down to every individual to say what they want to do."

In the meantime he added that the Museum of London had already begun acquiring items from the camp to preserve in its collections - whether or not the camp is evicted, Occupy is now a part of London's history.

The museum confirmed it had acquired a copy of the group's Occupied Times newspaper and "a couple of banners".

Spyro said that the movement would continue regardless of the eviction.

"What we want to make sure is that the movement continues," he said. "We're going find different ways to move forward and fight for what we believe in, but maybe in different forms."