UK court rejects Occupy London eviction challenge
LOS ANGELES - The Associated Press
A flag blows in the wind above tents, not pictured, at the occupy protest camp outside St Paul's Cathedral in London, Monday, Feb. 13, 2012. AP PhotoA British court today rejected a bid by Occupy London protesters to challenge an order evicting them from their camp outside St. Paul's Cathedral.
Local authorities said they would now enforce an order to remove the dozens of tents â€” though it did not say when the eviction would start.
"I would call on protesters to comply with the decision of the courts and remove their tents and equipment voluntarily right away," said Stuart Fraser, policy chairman of the City of London Corporation.
Last month, a High Court judge backed local authorities who are trying to remove the protest, but lawyers for the demonstrators sought to challenge the decision.
Three appeals court judges said Wednesday that the protesters had raised no compelling new legal arguments.
"We accept that there is a right to assemble and protest on the highway, but it is by no means an unfettered right," said David Neuberger, one of the judges.
Protesters against capitalist excess, inspired by New York's Occupy Wall Street movement, have been camped outside the 300-year-old church since October.
They say they are exercising freedom of speech and drawing attention to a warped capitalist system.
The local authority, the City of London Corporation, argued that the right to protest does not justify a semi-permanent campsite. During a five-day court hearing last month, lawyers for the city argued that the camp was harming nearby businesses, causing waste and hygiene problems and attracting crime and disorder.
Occupy's lawyer, John Cooper, said protesters would likely seek to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. He said that even if the camp is removed "the Occupy message has been heard and will continue to be heard." "This dysfunctional system needs to be called to account," he said.