170 EDL supporters arrested

 

More than 170 people, believed to be English Defence League supporters, have been arrested following a remembrance service in Whitehall.

The group was held outside the Red Lion pub in Westminster to "prevent a breach of the peace", Scotland Yard said.

The arrests came around two hours after wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph to commemorate fallen servicemen, and millions of Britons held a two-minute silence to remember the nation's war dead.

Trouble flared on Armistice Day last year when the far-right group clashed with Islamic protesters after members of Muslims Against Crusades (Mac) burned poppies outside the Royal Albert Hall.

But police said there were no reports of disorder between opposing groups ahead of today's arrests.

Writing on Twitter, the Met's Public Order Branch said: "170+ supporters of EDL were arrested this p.m to prevent a breach of the peace. No reported disorder between opposing groups at this stage."

Attempts to avert disorder began earlier today when the force posted a string of messages on the micro-blogging site stating that any disruption to the two-minute silence would be "dealt with robustly".

And it warned that deliberately using abusive or insulting words or behaviour was an offence under the Public Order Act.

But its remarks were met with fury and prompted the force to issue a series of tweets to justify its position.

Human rights lawyer Jules Carey, of Tuckers Solicitors, wrote: "This is the kind of freedom the veterans died for."

Referring to Scotland Yard's threat to use rubber bullets if violence erupted at Wednesday's student march, he added: "Are the Met about to announce that rubber bullets have been authorised for use on anyone showing insufficient respect?"

The force insisted it had posted its warnings on the back of intelligence which suggested there could be a repeat of last year's scenes.

"Last year during the 2 min silence a group burnt poppies and a counter protest was also held. This caused considerable upset to the public," it wrote.

"Arrests were made in 2010 & 2 people were later convicted. Intelligence and info suggested a similar incident may occur this year.

"The tweets sent out from this account this morning were intended to warn against any similar protests taking place."

A source at the Red Lion said officers corralled EDL members into the pub at around 11am in a bid to keep them "in one place".

But he said elements within the group later became abusive towards staff, with some allegedly leaning over the counter to steal food.

Officers were called back to the premises at around 12.50pm and began to "physically push them out" of the drinking spot, he said.

"Some of the staff aren't English and they were shouting at them, telling them to say 'England is better than where I'm from', and things like that," he said.

Another source at the pub said rowdy scenes broke out as supporters were removed from the venue.

"They did not want to go," he added.

"They resisted to the point they were throwing stools at the police and bar staff.

"It was not an average working day. The EDL decided to use this as a base. They were not happy that a number of our bar staff were not English."

Witnesses said the group was held outside the pub for several hours before being arrested.

There were no reports of injury in the fracas, which came after the EDL issued a statement on its websites warning members to conduct themselves "respectfully and responsibly" at the Westminster Armistice day service.

Referencing last year's disturbances, it said: "This is about the memories of the fallen past and present and anyone who acts otherwise will only be helping Mac in disrupting the day.

"We would ask that you refrain from alcohol consumption till after the day's proceedings have finished."

Tempers flared during the poppy burning incident in which Mac members were heard chanting "British soldiers burn in hell" before setting the symbol of remembrance alight during the two-minute silence.

The episode led to six EDL arrests including that of founder Stephen Lennon who was later charged with assaulting a police officer.

Mac had planned to hold a "Hell for Heroes" demonstration against Remembrance commemorations at the same site today.

But the event was cancelled after Home Secretary Theresa May declared the hard-line group would join the likes of al Qaida on a list of terrorist organisations banned in the UK.

As of today, supporting or being a member of Mac is a criminal offence.

PA

Suggested Topics
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game