G20 activists charged with impersonating police

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A group of activists stopped while driving a tank during G20 demonstrations have been charged with impersonating police.

The 11 men and women were held at the height of protests during the meeting of world leaders in London on April Fool's Day.

Their bright blue armoured vehicle was stopped by police outside Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) offices in Bishopsgate.

The group were some of 20 people charged with offences in the aftermath of two days of protests in the City.

An investigation was launched after a series of angry clashes, including a raid on another branch of RBS in Threadneedle Street, beside the Bank of England.

The six-wheeled vehicle, complete with gun turret, was emblazoned with a police-style black and white chequered livery and the word "riot".

Some of those inside were pictured wearing blue overalls and helmets, similar to those worn by public order police officers.

Officers escorted it to a weighbridge in Wapping where they checked if it was roadworthy before arresting all those inside on suspicion of impersonating police.

The vehicle, an Alvis Saracen of the kind once used by the British Army in Northern Ireland, is owned by protest group Space Hijackers.

No-one from the group was available, but a statement on their website said they would not comment on the police inquiry.

A City of London Police spokesman said 20 people have been charged with criminal offences in the aftermath of the protests.

He said: "Eleven people, seven men and four women, arrested on April 1 have been charged with two offences under section 90 of the Police Act 1996 - impersonating a police officer and wearing an article of police uniform.

"All 11 were bailed to appear at City of London Magistrates' Court, 10 on September 3, and the 11th on September 4."

The spokesman said the names of those charged was not available. He added that other people have been charged with offences including assaulting a police officer, violent disorder and burglary.

The law states it is an offence for anyone who is not an officer to wear police uniform "in circumstances where it gives him an appearance so nearly resembling that of a member of a police force as to be calculated to deceive."