14/10/2012 13:59 BST | Updated 15/10/2012 04:56 BST

Occupy London Protesters Chain Themselves To Pulpit In St Paul's Cathedral

Four women from the Occupy movement chained themselves to the pulpit in London's St Paul's Cathedral during evensong.

The women, dressed in white, interrupted the service, shouted a list of grievances against the cathedral and read part of the Bible, according to a statement from St Paul's.

The service was then allowed to continue as the women, one in a wheelchair, remained chained to the ornate, carved pulpit under the cathedral's famous dome.

The action came as the group marks the anniversary of its now-dismantled protest camp outside the cathedral and was intended to echo the protests of Pussy Riot, the Russian punk band who were arrested after they performed a "punk prayer" in Moscow Cathedral.

The women, one with references to the Bible written on her body, received communion while they were in chains, from priests taking the service. They also had an umbrella, spray-painted with the slogan "throw the money-changers out of the temple".

Their demonstration came as the anti-greed group marked the anniversary of the start of its camp outside the cathedral. Protesters outside unfurled a large banner bearing the same "money-changers" slogan as the four inside.

Police were called but staff said they were happy for the activists to remain inside the cathedral, a spokesman for City of London Police said. Officers instead policed the protest outside.

The Very Reverend Dr David Ison, dean of St Paul's, said he and a member of Occupy Faith, the group's religious wing, were leading a prayer when the women came up and started shouting.

"It will be a long cold night if they want to stay there," he said. "I don't know what they want to do.

"I'm just sorry they have decided to do this, which makes it hard for members of Occupy Faith, who have been working together with us on something which is respectful.

"We also disagree with the way in which some protesters are continuing to pursue the agenda of conflict with St Paul's, rather than consulting with us about how together we might better achieve the reforms which many people including Occupy are looking for."

One of the four women who chained themselves to the pulpit, charity worker Siobhan Grimes, 25, said she was unhappy that promised talks with the dean had not materialised after last year's protest.

Ms Grimes, a member of Christianity Uncut, an offshoot of the Occupy movement, said: "I think it is really important to speak up as Christians who believe in social justice and who believe in the aims of Occupy to say 'this is part of my faith'," she said.

"We don't have to be in conflict with the religious institutions because we believe in the teachings of Jesus."

A member of Occupy, speaking on the steps, gave a speech which included passages of the Bible, directed at the cathedral staff.

"We will not be silenced," he said. "One year ago tomorrow Occupy arrived on your doorstep and pitched our tents in the tradition of St Paul.

"We offered you an opportunity to live out our shared dream. In the fight for economic justice Jesus threw the money-changers from the temple. But you invited them in and instead evicted us.

"Your collusion with the City of London Corporation led to our violent eviction on your doorstep.

"You testified against us, which acted to uphold injustice and inequality, which is growing by the day."

The dean spoke with protesters after the evening service, and asked them to engage in talks with him and other church figures.

One of the protesters criticised St Paul's for accepting money from Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs.

"How can you possibly take money from these people?" she said. "Christianity will not die if you cannot keep the cathedral open. You don't need this money."

The dean replied: "Eighty percent or so of our budget comes from people who visit. We are already asking questions about that (regarding sources of funding) and we will continue to do so."

He then told the protesters they had been "discourteous" to interrupt the service, but added that he wanted to see the cathedral working together with groups including Occupy to help change people's lives.

"Ultimately what we are working for and what you are working for is going in the same direction."

Occupy London released a statement which said it was collaborating with Christianity Uncut to call for the leadership of St Paul's to "stop sitting on the fence and join the fight against rising inequality in the UK and beyond".

A message on the anti-corporate group's Twitter page also said they were protesting in solidarity with Russian protest punks Pussy Riot, two of whom remain in jail.

Mark Clarke, member of the common council of the City of London, whose ward covers the St Paul's area, was elected on an anti-Occupy ticket against a leader of the Occupy movement, according to his spokesman.

Mr Clarke said: "I am appalled to see Occupy back at St Paul's. Last time they were here they inconvenienced local people, vandalised the cathedral, and even defecated in the grounds. Yet again they've substituted political debate for cheap stunts and thuggery. We do not want them here."

The women cut themselves free at about 10pm after police entered the cathedral and warned them they faced arrest, an occupy spokesman said.

Last year hundreds of people set up camp outside St Paul's on October 15 after they were prevented from entering nearby Paternoster Square, where the London Stock Exchange is located, and remained there for four months.