Boris Johnson wins Parliament protest fight

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Indy Politics

The mayor of London has won his latest bid to evict veteran peace campaigner Brian Haw from Parliament Square Gardens.

Mr Haw, who is being treated for lung cancer in Germany, was not at London's High Court today but his co-protester Barbara Tucker immediately said she would appeal against the decision.

The ruling will not come into force pending any application to appeal, which must be lodged by 4pm on March 28.

Last July, demonstrators in the makeshift camp known as Democracy Village had to leave the historic site after the Court of Appeal backed possession orders granted to mayor Boris Johnson by Mr Justice Griffith Williams.

But it remitted the question of whether it was reasonable and proportionate to enforce them against Mr Haw, whose long-standing presence on the pavement on the east side of Parliament Square was not challenged, except for his encroachment on to a small adjoining part of the Gardens where he had pitched a tent.

Granting an order for possession and an injunction against Mr Haw and Ms Tucker, Mr Justice Wyn Williams said: "As is apparent from this judgment, I have concluded that the claimant has adduced substantial evidence which justifies the conclusion that the making of orders in this case is proportionate."

At a hearing last month, counsel David Forsdick repeated the Mayor's stance that he could not envisage situations where he would agree to a semi-permanent camp protest on the site.

"We are not asserting criminal damage, occupation of large parts of Parliament Square or any particular activity of Mr Haw and Mrs Tucker in Parliament Square.

"We are saying that their occupation of a part of it is, by itself, what we are concerned about."

The nature, duration and location of the protest were within Article 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act, which cover freedom of expression, association and assembly, and which could only be interfered with if there was a pressing social need.

But, added counsel: "The greater the extent of the right claimed, the greater the risk of that right having to be curtailed to protect the rights and freedoms of others".

Today, a spokesman for the Mayor said: "The Mayor is pleased that the High Court has supported previous rulings to return possession of Parliament Square Gardens to the Greater London Authority (GLA).

"The Court of Appeal had previously made a special case for Brian Haw and Barbara Tucker that they could continue to sleep on the grass area controlled by the GLA on a temporary basis while their case was referred back to the High Court for conclusion in this matter.

"The High Court has now concluded that neither party should be allowed to continue to sleep on the GLA controlled grass. The perimeter fences will be adjusted accordingly."