Occupy protesters leave Barbican


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Indy Politics

Occupy London protesters who took over an office building in the City have left the site just hours after they occupied it.

The economic justice campaigners entered Roman House in the Barbican at about 3.30am yesterday, the fifth occupation they have carried out to date.

But last night they decided to leave the building after a request from contractors employed by its owners.

Although Berkeley Homes had described the occupation as "potentially dangerous", protesters said they chose to leave to avoid putting at risk the jobs of those working on the building.

The campaigners said in a statement: "Occupy London was contacted by individual workers employed by Berkeley Homes who were concerned for their job security as it transpired they were recently employed to help renovate the building.

"In light of these discussions, yesterday evening it was decided to leave the building.

"We trust that Berkeley Homes will ensure that their redevelopment of the site will make adequate provision for affordable housing."

City of London Police said the protesters left of their own accord.

A police spokesman said the building had been secured once more and there was no longer a police presence there.

In its statement, Occupy London went on: "In the past 24 hours, the occupation of Roman House in the Barbican in the City of London focused attention, once again, on the refusal of the City of London Corporation to open its accounts to full public scrutiny, a basic duty accepted by every other public authority in the country.

"Response from local residents was tremendous with some coming up to occupiers to wish them support and find out more."

When the group announced its latest occupation, it said the building had previously housed financial service companies.

Campaigners initially vowed to remain at the abandoned block until the City of London Corporation published full details of its City cash accounts.

But Berkeley Homes urged them to vacate the building, expressing concerns they were putting themselves and the public "in real danger".

"It is not safe for public use, there are holes in the floors and we are in the early stages of asbestos removal", a spokesman said.

The company described the protesters' actions as "misguided", saying the previous occupiers were a firm of architects and the site had never been owned by the City of London.

Occupy London had planned to open the building to the public tomorrow for a lecture on the City's "secret finances and lobbying activities".

They are now vowing to hold the event "in the open areas of the Barbican centre itself".

January 23 is also the 100-day anniversary of the movement's occupation of the land by St Paul's Cathedral, where they set up camp on October 15 last year.

On Wednesday the High Court backed the corporation's bid to evict the protesters from the area.

But one of the protesters has launched an appeal and the rest remained defiant this weekend.

Other occupations by the movement include Finsbury Square and a building owned by investment bank UBS, both in the City of London.

About 50 protesters took over Roman House and a number of nearby residents came out to show their support during the day, the group said yesterday.