Protesters' eviction too late for royal wedding

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The Independent Online

The peace campaigner Brian Haw has lost his appeal against eviction from Parliament Square Gardens, but, despite the Mayor of London's best efforts, the legal intricacies of the case mean his camp will remain in place when Prince William and Kate Middleton's carriage drives past in two weeks time.

Mr Haw, who is currently having treatment for cancer in Germany, was absent from the Court of Appeal yesterday when he lost his challenge against a possession order granted to the Mayor of London. He and his associates will now no longer be able to sleep in the gardens in the square where Mr Haw has been since 2001.

But the case pertains only to the square itself, controlled by the London Parks and Gardens Trust. The pavement that surrounds it is controlled by Westminster Council. It applied in February to have Mr Haw and his associates removed, but that case will not be heard until 9 May.

Mr Haw's No 2, Babs Tucker, was arrested yesterday, for the 10th time, after entering the square in protest at the court's verdict. "We will definitely be here on the day of the royal wedding," said Brenda Williams, a 62-year-old poet who has been coming to the camp for the past five years. She said that they were not expecting the return of Mr Haw "any time soon".

"The protest is only 42 days away from 10 years and we will do everything we can to reach that," Ms Williams said. "But all the legal options have been exhausted now."

Mrs Tucker said yesterday she was concerned Westminster Council would now come after them. A spokesperson for the council said: "May 9th is the next key date for us."

In court Ms Tucker had asked the judges to adjourn the appeal application to give Mr Haw more time to seek legal aid and mount his appeal to explain why he should be allowed to remain on the grass for health reasons. She said that, if the Mayor's order was enforced, Mr Haw, despite suffering from cancer, would have to sleep on the pavement.

Mr Haw, 62, has staged a demonstration in Parliament Square against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Authorities have attempted to remove him on several occasions but he has maintained his protest through a number of legal technicalities.