Demonstrations' to be banned during Olympics'

Ministers ponder tough new powers to prevent Occupy-style protests interfering with Games

Ministers are planning legal action to restrict public protests during the Olympics, amid fears that Britain could be disrupted by lengthy and high-profile demonstrations.

The Home Office is so concerned about the impact of the stalemate over the Occupy London (OLSX) encampment outside St Paul's Cathedral that officials have been ordered to produce plans for avoiding a similar conflict during the Games next summer.

Ministers' plans, based on the measures put in place to remove long-term protesters from outside Parliament, includes identifying "exclusion zones" around key locations, and fast-tracking the removal of protests that do not have the blessing of the authorities. It would permit police to move in and disperse encampments quickly, in line with last week's clearance of the Occupy Wall Street camp in New York.

Protesters and legal experts condemned the moves as an assault on the right to peaceful protest. An OLSX spokeswoman, Naomi Colvin, said: "If the Government wants to do something that will restrict the right of peaceful protest, it will be in serious trouble. The coalition appears to be abandoning any attempt to behave like a democratic government."

Police have been given enhanced powers to act against protests at the Olympics since the Games were awarded to London six years ago, including the right to enter private homes and seize political posters. However, the St Paul's protest and the difficulties resolving the ensuing row raised further concerns about potential threats to the Games.

A senior Home Office source said the department had drawn up a series of proposals, largely based on the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, that pave the way for the removal of protests and encampments in Parliament Square. The responsibility for taking legal action against protests and encampments would be transferred from landowners to public authorities.

"The threat from protests was always a danger during planning for the Olympics, but the St Paul's protest has shoved it up the agenda," the source said. "It is not just embarrassing, it can be a threat to security."

Colin Hay, professor of political analysis at Sheffield University, said the measures were in line with often controversial pre-Olympic preparations seen elsewhere. He added: "There is nothing better designed to prompt a wave of peaceful protest than the prospect of legislation designed to limit the opportunities for such protest."

Dame Vivienne Westwood yesterday rallied the anti-capitalist protesters outside St Paul's with a demand for young people to step off the "consumer treadmill" and "get a life". In a speech at the encampment, the fashion designer said: "You have to have culture to get a life. You have to have perspective to have [a reasoned] opinion."

Additional reporting by Paul Cahalan

Suggested Topics
Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week