King’s Cross staff threaten walk out in protest at EDL using station as demonstration rallying point

 

Passengers travelling to the Paralympics face major disruption today after staff at King’s Cross in London vowed to walk out in protest at supporters of the far-right English Defence League using the station as a rallying point for a demonstration in the north of the capital.

Staff members have complained that they faced abuse at the hands of the EDL as they headed to a similar protest last year. A spokesman for the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) said staff would take the step – in a bid to close the Underground station - in order to protect themselves and the public.

“Staff will walk away from work on the grounds of safety, if nothing else,” said an RMT spokesman yesterday. He added: “we are talking about an organisation which has a track record of violence and our staff have reported problems in the past.”

RMT members have privately talked about shutting the station down. However, their bosses at Transport for London insisted yesterday that the station would remain open and said that their talks with the Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police indicated no immediate danger to staff or to the public.

Police sought to ban last year’s march, which saw clashes between the EDL and their opponents, and staff at King’s Cross closed the entrance to the tube for around half an hour.

Staff are understood to be unhappy with the approach to last year’s EDL demonstration in Walthamstow. Some said they have decided to take action themselves to stop the group travelling from the station to Blackhorse Road tube station in north London, where this year’s march is due to start.

Some of those involved are also believed to be ideologically opposed to the EDL and will seek to block their march if possible. Plans seen by the Independent indicate that some staff at King’s Cross station are planning to “organise halting [the marchers] getting on to the system in the first place”.

The plans continue: “The obvious point of exit is Blackhorse Road. We need to close this station down (as opposed to just withdrawing to places of safety) and then Walthamstow when the risk is transferred.

“We mustn’t do this too early because we’ll only hinder the counter demonstration that’s assembling at Walthamstow at 11. In other words, we close Blackhorse Road and Walthamstow stations at the point when the risk actually presents itself.

“We need to draft up a simple pro forma on refusal to work on the grounds of health and safety on account of the serious and imminent risk presented by the EDL to staff and passengers.

In an email, organisers said they planned to “refuse to work, close the station and insist that the service [does not stop there] as a result.”

They said they expected around 500 EDL members to attend the demonstration and anti-EDL groups have vowed to hold counter demonstrations.

A TfL spokesperson said: “The safety of our staff and customers is our first priority. We have been working closely with the British Transport Police and Metropolitan Police and there is no known threat to our staff or our customers. We have no plans to close either King’s Cross or Blackhorse Road stations.”

EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon did not respond to requests for comment. However, the group has repeatedly insisted that it is non-violent but, since it does not have a formal membership structure, cannot control every member of a march.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker