Violence flares at Justice Bill protest

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CAMPAIGNERS against the Criminal Justice Bill succeeded in lobbying MPs last night after more than two hours of running battles with police, writes Danny Penman. The Coalition against the Criminal Justice Bill organised a mass lobby of Parliament to coincide with the Bill's re-entry into the House of Commons.

After a rally in Westminster Central Hall, about 3,000 people marched on Parliament. The violence flared as demonstrators left the rally and tried to make their way to Parliament, a few smashing windows as they went. The demonstrators were sent on a circuitous route to avoid crossing Parliament Square en masse, which is forbidden by law.

The main clashes occurred at about 8.30pm when the demonstrators reached Parliament and were met by lines of several hundred police. Demonstrators began hurling abuse and missiles.

The police lines were driven back and reached the gates of the House of Lords, where they issued a warning that they were prepared to use force to disperse the crowd. A group of 100 demonstrators then began tearing at the gates. Sporadic fighting began, with demonstrators hurling bottles at police. Six police officers and six protesters were injured. There were 35 arrests.

After most of the demonstrators had dispersed, a hard core of 150 were let into Parliament to lobby their MPs.