Protesters' 'Bank of Ideas' to stay open over Christmas

 

Members of the Occupy London protest movement have won the right to stay in an office block belonging to the investment bank UBS over the Christmas and New Year period after a High Court judge granted them leave to take their case to the Court of Appeal.

But discussions were continuing last night over a withdrawal from the nearby St Paul's Cathedral site as demonstrators attempted to finalise plans for a scaled-down version of their protest, which they hope to present to church staff later this week.

The demonstrators won a partial victory in the two separate proceedings over their sites at St Paul's and in a disused office block in East London, taking place simultaneously in the High Court in London yesterday.

A judge allowed them to appeal against an earlier High Court decision upholding a "possession order" granted to UBS over its office block, which Occupy London demonstrators have taken over and dubbed the "Bank of Ideas". The hearing is set to take place in January next year.

Legal proceedings to evict them from the steps of the Cathedral will resume today after the camp was described as a "magnet" for disorder and crime in the area in an initial hearing in the High Court yesterday. And the judge Mr Justice Lindblom said he would make a private visit to the site yesterday evening.

David Forsdick, acting for the City of London Corporation, which is trying to force the eviction of the protesters, said: "When one considers the impacts which arise – despite the efforts of some of the protesters to mitigate impacts - the case for the orders sought becomes overwhelming.”
Michael Paget, speaking for representative defendant Tammy Samede, said the case raised an issue of "extreme public importance".

He said: "Should citizens be stymied when exercising their rights of assembly and expression under the common law and the Human Rights Act 1998 by national property, planning or local government law?

"And, in particular, how should courts deal with the recent phenomena of the peaceful, but semi-permanent, occupation of civic spaces to highlight issues of political concern where the occupation is the very nature of the protest?" Freedom of expression was a liberty which must be jealously guarded by the courts, said counsel.

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