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Occupy London Protesters Launch Appeal Against Eviction

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Occupy protesters are appealing a High Court decision to evict them from St Paul's Cathedral
Occupy protesters are appealing a High Court decision to evict them from St Paul's Cathedral

Occupy London protesters who lost their bid to stay camped outside St Paul's Cathedral have launched an appeal against their eviction.

Lawyers for the protesters have said the case raised an issue of "extreme public importance" and freedom of expression was a liberty which must be guarded by the courts.

Last month the High Court, granting orders for possession and injunctions after action by the City of London Corporation, said the eviction was "entirely lawful and justified", as well as necessary and proportionate.

However the City has agreed not to enforce the orders pending the protesters' appeal hearing, presented in the Court of Appeal before the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Lord Justice McFarlane.

The case between Occupy London and the City began in December, and the results were delivered in late January.

But there were concerns that St Paul's Cathedral had contributed evidence without entering itself as a party in the case.

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

The City of London Corporation argued that there was an "overwhelming" case for the High Court's intervention because of the impact on St Paul's Churchyard of the semi-permanent camp, which has been there since 15 October last year.

The limited interference with the protesters' rights entailed in the removal of the tents was justified and proportionate, given the rights and freedoms of others.

It added that the camp had acted as a magnet for disorder and crime in the area, impacted on worshippers, affected trade, and caused waste and hygiene problems.

Occupy's lawyers argue that the camp did not prevent worship and was properly managed with arrangements made for sanitation and cleaning while the level of criminal activity within the district had not increased.

Occupy protesters have already been evicted from an empty UBS-owned building called 'The Bank of Ideas', but have moved into a disused school in Islington, and have maintained a presence in Finsbury Square, also in Islington.

An Islington Council spokesman said:

"Finsbury Square is managed by the council for the people of Islington, one of England's most deprived boroughs.

"We support the right to peaceful protest, but this has to be balanced with the needs of our community.

"The protesters don't have permission to be in the square.

"At a time of huge Government cuts to our budgets we are very reluctant to waste vital money on expensive legal action, but we have not ruled it out if we are left with no choice."

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