City lets protesters stay at St Paul's until Christmas


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The Independent Online

Protesters camped outside St Paul's Cathedral have been given permission by the Square Mile's governing body to stay until the new year.

At a meeting between the two sides yesterday, the Corporation of London said it was happy for the camp to remain as long as a clear path for fire access was made in the church yard, a spokesman for the demonstrators said.

St Paul's suspended legal action against the protest camp on Tuesday, and the corporation followed suit by pausing planned legal action to remove the protesters.

After meeting with a corporation lawyer, camp spokeswoman Tina Rothery said the protesters will discuss a request for a proposed reduction in the number of tents. "We would have to make a slight reduction in tents in order to free up space for the fire brigade," she said. "We are delighted. This is a great U-turn from the Corporation of London, and following the backing of the Archbishop and St Paul's, this is proving to be an exciting time for our movement."

Ms Rothery added that the offer would be discussed at a general assembly of protesters at the site. The corporation was unavailable for comment.

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, yesterday received a hostile response from the City to his support for a "Robin Hood tax" on banks.

He expressed sympathy with the protesters on Tuesday, saying that a tax on financial transactions would be one measure that would advance their aims.

David Buik, of City brokers BGC Partners, said the tax would fall disproportionately on the British economy and cost 500,000 jobs. He said: "When I want His Grace's divine intervention on how to get to heaven then I will seek his counsel. But when it comes to how we should run the economy, I would ask him to listen to [Chancellor] George Osborne."

David Cameron backed Dr Williams' call for greater responsibility from financiers but poured cold water on his attempt to promote a tax on financial transactions – Mr Cameron said the Government would only support such a measure if it was adopted globally.

The Archbishop received support from 70 organisations including Oxfam and the TUC, who sent a letter to Mr Cameron saying the levy would be "the most popular tax in history".