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18 July 2024

Police remove protesters from London's Parliament Square


Police removed an encampment of protesters on London's Parliament Square on Monday, seeking to clear it for the first time since demonstrators against the war in Afghanistan set up there a decade ago.

"The removal operation has been completed. We've removed approximately eight tents. Ten to 12 people have been moved on," a Scotland Yard spokesman said, adding that despite two arrests, it passed off largely peacefully.

He said that just one demonstrator remains on the square outside the Houses of Parliament following the operation, after being granted permission to remain by a court pending a legal challenge to the removal order.

Campaigners for a variety of causes have been on the square for a decade, most recently activists who set up a "Democracy Village" on the grass in May 2010 before being evicted and decamping to the pavement the following year.

Most of them were inspired by Brian Haw, a peace campaigner who set up on the pavement in June 2001 in protest first at sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussein's Iraq, then at the US-led invasion of Afghanistan later that year.

He defied numerous attempts to remove him and only left his post to seek medical treatment for lung cancer, which finally killed him in June 2011.

Colin Barrow, the leader of Westminster Council which has long been fighting to clear the square, welcomed the police operation on Monday, which was made possible by a new law passed last year.

"For too long local people and tourists have been unable to fully enjoy the square. This is a tragedy and the sooner this historic site can be enjoyed by the public the better," the councillor said.