UPDATE: According to the police, 58 arrests were made for breach of Section 14 of the Public Order Act. A police spokesperson said: "These are part of the United Against Facism protest."
The road outside the Palace of Westminster became a battleground on Saturday afternoon as supporters of the British National Party (BNP) clashed with rival anti-fascist campaigners, predominantly members of Unite Against Fascism (UAF).
A BNP activist, who identified himself to the Huff Post UK as Clifford LeMay, a member of the party’s Croydon branch, suffered a large cut to the face in the melee as police struggled to keep both sets of protesters separate. More than 100 officers, including several dog handlers, attempted to keep the rivals apart as tensions mounted. During the afternoon, a number of anti-fascist protesters were arrested, much to the delight of the BNP who cheered as the detainees were loaded into a police van.
LeMay said he was exercising his right to political protest when he was allegedly set upon by anti-fascist protesters. “I’ve come here for a peaceful demonstration,” he told the HuffPost UK, blood dripping from a large gash on his nose. “I put my best suit on to come here for a peaceful, respectable protest. Now my best suit is ruined.” He added: "I am a member of a legal, registered party and I was attacked by these scumbags [the rival protesters] who are always the ones to cause the trouble. It's not our people... it's always them."
The BNP had originally planned to protest through the streets of Woolwich, the scene of soldier Lee Rigby’s murder last month. However, the protest was moved to Westminster on Saturday morning on the orders of the police. Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP, did eventually attend the protest.
He said: "I believe that by being here today we have at least taken a step to taking the debate to where it needs to be. Not about whether the terrible murder of Lee Rigby was isolated, something which will never happen again. We're pointing out that it will happen again and again and again until the West disengages with Islam and they leave our country."
Between 50 and 100 members of the BNP arrived at Old Palace Yard at 1pm, many wearing t-shirts bemoaning Islamic "hate preachers”.
Around 300-400 members of the rival protest, which had gathered close to Downing Street, moved to confront the BNP shortly after 1pm, despite protestations from the police. A standoff ensued, with both sets of protesters hurling abuse at each other over the heads of the officers. Members of the English Defence League did not attend the protest.