Occupy London protests: Police to be allowed to clear Paternoster Square near St Paul's

Police can now close Pastnoster Square in the event of an “imminent threat”

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The Independent Online

Police will be allowed to clear a square in London where anti-capitalist protesters camped in 2011, following a ruling on Friday.

Activists from the Occupy London movement set up camp outside the London Stock Exchange in Paternoster Square, nearby St Paul’s Cathedral, in 2011 and again in smaller actions in May 2012 - despite an earlier injuction.

The group describes itself as part of a global movement which aims to “put democracy and the environment before profit”.

In February 2012, police dismantled the movement’s camp following a High Court injunction by the City of London Corporation - the square’s owner.

The City of London Corporation has now classified the square as a “City walkway”, meaning police can immediately close Pastnoster Square, as well as six adjoining lanes and alleys, in the event of an “imminent threat” or unforeseen events, the Evening Standard reported.

The square’s freeholder, the City, and Oxford Properties Group, which owns the majority of the buildings on the site, struck a deal to make the ruling possible.

Office workers sit around a monument in Paternoster Square, in front of the London Stock Exchange

Read more: Angry protesters settle in with kitchen tent and library'

Oxford Properties Group requested extra powers that included “the ability...to restrict access to the estate in the case of demonstration or terrorist threat”.

Matthew Varnham, Occupy’s legal advisor, said the by-laws could be challenged it they were regarded as incompatible with human rights law. “It’s one step further in encroaching on people’s ancient rights,” he told the Evening Standard.

A City of London Corporation spokesman said: “The City Corporation is committed to improving the pedestrian environment and public access to key locations in the Square Mile,” but added: “the City will always facilitate lawful protest.”

A spokeswoman for Oxford Properties Group, on behalf of Paternoster Square Management, told the newspaper: “There will be no impact to the public access to or experience of Paternoster Square.”