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UK Politics

Home Secretary bans EDL march

The English Defence League's plan to march through the capital next month was blocked by the Home Secretary today.

Theresa May banned all marches in Tower Hamlets, east London, and four neighbouring boroughs in the capital for a 30-day period following a request from Scotland Yard Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin.

The move comes amid fears of violence and disorder if the march was allowed to go ahead.

Mrs May said: "Having carefully considered the legal tests in the Public Order Act and balanced rights to protest against the need to ensure local communities and property are protected, I have given my consent to a ban on all marches in Tower Hamlets and four neighbouring boroughs for a 30-day period.

"I know that the Metropolitan Police are committed to using their powers to ensure communities and properties are protected.

"We encourage all local people and community leaders to work with the police to ensure community relations are not undermined by public disorder."

Nick Lowles, director of the anti-extremist campaign group Searchlight, said: "This decision is a victory for common sense.

"The EDL clearly intended to use the proposed march to bring violence and disorder to the streets of Tower Hamlets. Their plan has been foiled."

He added: "We congratulate Theresa May and the Metropolitan police on their decision, as well as those ordinary Londoners who have joined with Searchlight and local community groups in opposing this divisive demonstration.

"Legitimate protest is healthy. Violence and intimidation are not."

Scotland Yard said later that the request to ban marches had come from the rank below Mr Godwin.

A spokeswoman said: "The commander for the event makes a request to the assistant commissioner, who makes a written request to the Home Secretary.

"The authority to make this request can be delegated from the Commissioner to an assistant commissioner under section 15 of the Public Order Act 1986."