Occupy London: St Pauls Camp Evicted By City Of London Bailiffs
The anti-capitalist protesters who camped outside St Paul's Cathedral for more than four months have been evicted.
After police and bailiffs arrived at the site, the corporation said it had begun to enforce the High Court orders for the removal of the tents and equipment from the Occupy site.
"We regret that it has come to this but the High Court judgment speaks for itself and the Court of Appeal has confirmed that judgment," its statement said.
Occupy London was refused permission by the Court of Appeal last week to challenge orders evicting protesters from the site which has been home to the camp since October 15 last year.
Granting orders for possession and injunctions against Occupy London at the High Court last month, Justice Lindblom said the proposed action by the City of London Corporation - which it pledged not to enforce pending appeal - was "entirely lawful and justified", as well as necessary and proportionate.
PICTURES: The Latest From The St Paul's Eviction
The appeal judges, headed by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, said that the protesters had raised no arguable case.
At around 12.30am protesters sent out messages on Twitter and via text message calling for help.
Just after 1am officials in orange jackets and helmets swept in to start removing the main cluster of tents, with a line of police behind them. Tents and pallets were carried out across the church yard, leaving a carpet of litter on the cobbles.
Moments earlier, campaigner Gary Sherborne, 50, dismantled his tent, having been warned by police that action was imminent.
He said: "We haven't got any choice and I'd rather protect the tent for another day without it being destroyed by the bailiffs. I think people are resigned to the fact they might lose their tent. It's only tents and materials the injunction applies to so I think some protesters will be back here tomorrow. I think the police have acted honourably so far. We'll just have to see how this process pans out."
At about 1am officials in orange jackets and helmets swept in to start removing the main cluster of tents, with a line of police behind them.
Tents and pallets were carried out across the church yard, leaving a carpet of litter on the cobbles.
Meanwhile, a group of protesters remained defiant, waving flags and banging tambourines on top of a makeshift wooden structure facing the cathedral. Just after 2am, bailiffs surrounded the wooden structure and began dragging away pallets.
One protester on top of the construction shouted: "You're not big, you're not hard and we're certainly not scared of you."
Another man in the branches of a nearby tree sprayed water on to the crowds below as defiant campaigners chanted.
Minutes later, the bailiffs retreated and scores of police in riot gear moved in to surround the structure.
It a statement St Paul's Cathedral said:
"In the past few months, we have all been made to re-examine important issues about social and economic justice and the role the cathedral can play.
"We regret the camp had to be removed by bailiffs but we are fully committed to continuing to promote these issues through our worship, teaching and Institute.
"The cathedral is open today and set aside for prayer and reflection. The cathedral is accessible to everyone.
"The area currently cordoned off is for essential repairs to damaged paving.
"Clergy are available throughout the day for pastoral care and support."
A City of London Police spokesman said "a small minority of protesters obstructed the work of bailiffs" and 20 arrests had been made by 4.30am. He added: "The operation was largely peaceful."
Occupy London spokeswoman Kai Wargalla said: "It's really sad what's happening today but I think we can be proud of what we've achieved. Our community is being attacked here, but we're going to reconvene and come back stronger. We're going to think about our strategy and tactics and it's going to be an interesting time."
She said many of the campers from St Paul's planned to go to one of the group's other sites in Finsbury Square instead.
By 3.30am the remaining handful of protesters standing on the makeshift structure had been cleared from the top of it, allowing bailiffs to dismantle it completely.
Minutes later, crowds chanted "Long live Occupy" as police escorted people towards waiting vans. Some were carried by their arms and legs by groups of officers.
On its website, Occupy vowed that the eviction was "only the beginning" of its mission.
"We’ll miss Occupy London Stock Exchange but not because of the tents, or even the kitchen shelves: it was a makeshift, loosely cooperative, occasionally quarrelling and fiercely idealistic group of people who came together to achieve something extraordinary.
"The relationships forged during these strange and beautiful four and a half months still have much further to run. This is only the beginning."