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Sporadic Scuffles Break At EDL Protest In East London

Edl

First Posted: 09/ 3/2011 1:11 pm Updated: 11/ 3/2011 6:12 am   PA

PRESS ASSOCIATION - Far-right demonstrators clashed with police as they protested in east London.

Scuffles broke out and bottles and firecrackers were thrown by members of the English Defence League (EDL) as riot police, mounted police and dogs turned out on the streets in large numbers to maintain control.

The clashes broke out as EDL leader Stephen "Tommy" Lennon addressed the crowd, telling them he had broken his bail conditions to be at the protest. The far-right group told Scotland Yard it planned to lead a "static demonstration" in the wake of a 30-day ban by Home Secretary Theresa May on marching in six areas.

There had been fears of potential unrest ahead of the protest, centred on the deprived inner city borough of Tower Hamlets.

Mrs May also banned marches in Newham, Waltham Forest, Islington, Hackney and the City of London.

More than 3,000 officers were expected to be available amid fears of violence and clashes with opposition groups including Unite Against Fascism.

Campaigners have been in ongoing negotiations with police chiefs in the wake of tough measures introduced by Mrs May. It is the first time since the Brixton riots 30 years ago that police have requested powers to stop marches in London.

Scuffles broke out as Lennon addressed the chanting crowd, many of whom were waving banners.

He said: "I'm meant to sign on at a police station on a Saturday, I'm not doing that. I'm not allowed to go to a demonstration, I'm not doing that.

"The credible outcome is I will be put on remand in prison for my democratic right. That's what's going to happen and when I go to court if they let me out of court with any bail conditions that restrict my democratic right to oppose militant Islam, I will break them the minute I walk out."

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Filed by Paul Vale  |