|Occupy London activists protested outside a British high court as it ruled in support of a plan to evict their camp [GETTY]
An ‘Occupy London’ protest camp that has sprawled outside the city’s St Paul’s Cathedral for three months must be removed, the British high court has ruled.
Keith Lindblom, the judge hearing the case on Wednesday, supported local authorities who are trying to evict the protesters, inspired by New York’s ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement opposed to corporate greed.
The protesters have been camped outside the 300-year-old church on the fringes of London’s financial district since mid-October.
The local authority, the City of London Corporation, argued that the right to protest did not justify a semi-permanent campsite affecting the rights of worshippers, businesses and tourists.
During a five-day court hearing last month, lawyers for the corporation argued that the camp was harming nearby businesses.
It also said demonstrators were drinking late into the night and creating an unpleasant atmosphere.
The protesters’ lawyers argued that the case raised an issue of “extreme public importance” and said that freedom of expression was a liberty that must be jealously guarded by the courts.
The protesters set up camp outside the cathedral after they were prevented from camping in front of the nearby London Stock Exchange.
Their proximity to the famous cathedral has embroiled church officials in the conflict between protesters and the city’s finance industry.
The church’s position on the protesters has shifted several times, and the cathedral’s dean and a senior priest both resigned over the crisis.