Mugabe opponents seek 'protest zone' at cricket

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The MCC will consider today a demand from anti-Mugabe campaigners to permit a "protest zone" at this week's controversial test match between England and Zimbabwe or face a pitch invasion.

Protesters have warned of a series of "disruptions" if officials refuse to allow a visible campaign inside Lord's Cricket Ground on the first day of the match on Thursday.

Organisers of the protest have threatened to run on to the pitch with cricket whites covered in fake blood to highlight human rights abuses by the regime of Robert Mugabe.

The executive board of the MCC, the Marylebone Cricket Club, which owns Lord's, will discuss the threat at a scheduled meeting today.

Peter Tatchell, of the Stop The Tour campaign group, telephoned Roger Knight, the MCC chief executive, last week with his proposal. The club said spectators would be banned from bringing banners into the ground.

Hundreds of anti-Mugabe protesters are expected to attend the Lord's Test - the highlight of protests and the blue riband event of the two-Test series against England.