Sunday 19 November 2017

Rival protesters clash outside Westminster Palace

BNP leader Nick Griffin during a demonstration in Westminster in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 1, 2013. See PA story POLICE Woolwich Protest. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire
BNP leader Nick Griffin during a demonstration in Westminster in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 1, 2013. See PA story POLICE Woolwich Protest. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire
A member of the BNP during a demonstration in Westminster in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 1, 2013. See PA story POLICE Woolwich Protest. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire
BNP leader Nick Griffin speaks during a demonstration in Westminster in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 1, 2013. See PA story POLICE Woolwich Protest. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

Ryan Hooper, Press Association

BNP supporters and anti-fascist campaigners came to blows, resulting in 58 arrests.

At least one man, a BNP activist, suffered a large cut to the nose after initially fierce shouting from either side of gated barriers spilled into violence.

Dozens of police sought to break up the disorder, at around 1pm today, after the chanting escalated.

Police sniffer dogs were also deployed to help calm the situation, as tempers flared.

One BNP supporter who was injured in the scrap said: "I've put my best suit on today and come out for a peaceful demonstration and this is what's happened.

"And to think they call us thugs!"

The fighting came despite calls for peace from police and the family of soldier Lee Rigby, who was hacked to death in Woolwich last month in what police are treating as a terrorist attack.

The BNP had planned to march from Woolwich Barracks, but were banned from doing so by Scotland Yard, amid community fears that their presence could prompt disorder.

Around 100 people gathered on Old Palace Yard, clutching BNP banners and calling for "hate preachers out".

A short time later, counter protesters began directing chants at them, calling them "fascist scum", "you racist Nazis".

Scotland Yard said that a group, believed to be part of the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) protest, gathered in a pre-arranged penned area - but some were unwilling to remain within that area.

A spokesman added: "Due to police concerns about serious disruption to the life of the community, and the potential for serious disorder should this counter protest confront the BNP organised protest, police have imposed conditions under Section 14 of the Public Order Act.

"Those conditions state that the protest must take place in Whitehall Gardens junction with Whitehall.

"A group of about 300, also believed to be part of the UAF protest, were stopped in Old Palace Yard junction with Abdingdon Street.

"This group have now been notified of the conditions imposed under Section 14 and requested to move to Whitehall Gardens to continue their protest. Officers are in negotiation with this group."

The crowd of noisy anti-fascist protesters heavily outnumbered the BNP supporters.

They held banners which read "smash the BNP" and "say no to Islamaphobia".

Around 50 of them rushed towards one man as he was escorted by police to the area containing the BNP group.

BNP leader Nick Griffin warned that the murder of soldier Lee Rigby would not be an isolated incident.

He said: "I believe that by being here today we have at least taken a step to taking the debate to where it needs to be.

"Not about whether the terrible murder of Lee Rigby was isolated, something which will never happen again.

"We're pointing out that it will happen again and again and again until the West disengages with Islam and they leave our country."

When asked about the BNP supporters being significantly outnumbered, he replied: "I think that a number of people who wanted to come have been turned away by the police.

"People have been attacked by the Far Left gang on their way in, so perhaps that has cut numbers."

A number of anti-fascist protesters were arrested.

The BNP group cheered as the handcuffed demonstrators were led onto a red double decker London bus which had "Special Service" as its destination.

Some of those arrested were carried by officers holding their arms and legs.

Meanwhile, rival protests by the Scottish Defence League (SDL) and anti-racism campaigners took place in Edinburgh's Old Town.

The SDL held a static protest outside the Scottish Parliament, while Unite Against Fascism (UAF) organised its own counter-protest.

Police, who were at the scene in large numbers, kept the two groups apart with barriers in the city's Horse Wynd, in front of the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The road was closed to traffic for the duration of the protest, in which both sides held banners aloft and chanted slogans.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said that 20 supporters of Unite Against Fascism had been arrested by 4pm for suspected public order offences.

The anti-fascists were kept away from the BNP group by the police.

Police said there had been 31 arrests by 4.35pm.

The BNP group were hoping to march to the Cenotaph on Whitehall.

The UAF supporters had blocked their path throughout the day, but the police gradually moved them off the road at Parliament Square.

At around 5.15pm, the BNP protesters walked out of their pen and appeared to end their demonstration.

Scotland Yard said that by just after 5pm there had been 58 arrests for breach of Section 14 of the Public Order Act, adding: "These are part of the United Against Facism protest."

Shortly after 5:30pm Scotland Yard said the BNP protest had concluded in Old Palace Yard.

Police in Scotland later said two people had been arrested in Edinburgh.

Rival protests by the Scottish Defence League (SDL) and anti-racism campaigners took place in the capital's Old Town.

The SDL held a static protest outside the Scottish Parliament, while Unite Against Fascism (UAF) organised its own counter-protest.

Police said: "During this activity two people were arrested for alleged public order offences."

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