Defeated in the courts, protesters leave without a fight

They battled hard in the courts, but in the end the inhabitants of the Democracy Village put up little resistance when the bailiffs finally moved in.

Shortly after 1am yesterday, a squad of approximately 60 people, dressed in high-visibility jackets and helmets, moved on to Parliament Square to evict the motley coalition of anti-war protesters and rough sleepers who had taken over the patch of grass outside the Palace of Westminster since 1 May.

It was the culmination of an ongoing battle between the temporary inhabitants and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who went to the courts to argue that the camp was "becoming an eyesore" and should be cleared.

Free speech campaigners decried the decision by the Court of Appeal last week to press ahead with an eviction, arguing that the judiciary had clamped down on free speech simply because politicians had lamented the aesthetics of the camp.

The bailiffs themselves, backed up by a squad of police officers, launched the eviction in the middle of the night to avoid any disruption to the morning rush-hour traffic. Last year, when the police tried to remove an ongoing protest by the Tamil diaspora, scores of protesters spilled out onto the roads around Westminster, bringing central London to a temporary standstill and rallying thousands more to a cause that continued its protest for more than 40 days.

Although some of the Democracy Village inhabitants chained themselves to scaffolding with bike locks in protest at the eviction, most simply packed up and left. The Metropolitan Police said no arrests had been made and that their officers had only attended in a "supporting role to High Court enforcement officers".

Most of the camp's inhabitants had only pitched their tents over the past eight weeks, but others had been on Parliament Square for years. Maria Gallastegui, 51, has been holding a one-person vigil for Gaza for four years and was moved off the site last night.

"No-one was hurt but people were forcibly removed," she said. "There are certainly a few bruises. We were so tired and drained by being here for all this time – I think that was an element in them moving us on so quickly. There were clashes. I climbed up on some scaffolding, but the bailiffs were quite swift in moving in."

Brian Haw, the anti-war campaigner who has held a vigil outside Parliament since 2 June 2001, has been spared the eviction and will be allowed to continue his one-man protest.

Colin Barrow, the leader of Westminster City Council, said: "Whilst it is right and proper that [the square] will always be a place where people can voice their opinions, we must find a way to help prevent it being hijacked by vociferous minorities whose primary intent seems to turn this UNESCO World Heritage Site into a squalid campsite."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering