Bloomberg News

St. Paul’s ‘Occupy London’ Protesters Given 48 Hours to Go

November 01, 2011

(Updates with comment from Bishop of London in fourth paragraph.)

Nov. 1 (Bloomberg) -- The City of London Corporation, the civic body responsible for the capital’s financial district, is today set to serve eviction notices on anti-capitalism protesters camped outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The corporation is giving the Occupy London protesters, who also have an encampment in Finsbury Square, 48 hours to move away from land it owns in the vicinity of the cathedral, the financial district’s most famous church, where more than 200 tents have been put up.

The Chapter of the cathedral, the body responsible for the church, today agreed to suspend its separate legal action against the protesters, it said in an e-mailed statement today.

“The alarm bells are ringing all over the world,” Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, said in the statement. “St. Paul’s has now heard that call. Today’s decision means that the doors are most emphatically open to engage with matters concerning not only those encamped around the cathedral but millions of others in this country and around the globe.”

St. Paul’s, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1710, was closed to worshippers and tourists for six days on health and safety concerns last month, the first time it had shut its doors since the German bombing campaign in World War II. It has since reopened.

Clerical Resignations

Criticism of the church’s handling of the protest prompted the Dean in charge of the cathedral, Graeme Knowles, to quit yesterday following the resignation of two other clerics last week. The Chapter agreed Oct. 28 to take legal action against the protesters.

Ken Costa, chairman of Lazard International until March, will head an initiative to “reconnect the financial with the ethical,” Chartres said in today’s statement. Costa will be supported by others from the financial district and the church, including Giles Fraser, who quit as Canon Chancellor of the cathedral on Oct. 27 on concern violence might be used to remove the protesters.

The Occupy London protest against bank bailouts, bankers’ pay and cuts in government spending followed the similar Occupy Wall Street campaign in the U.S. where demonstrators have been camped in Zuccotti Park near the World Trade Center site since Sept. 17, calling for greater economic equality. The campaign has since spread to four continents.

London Protests

The London protests have hurt businesses located near the cathedral, with sales at Paternoster Chop House near St. Paul’s and the London Stock Exchange falling 40 percent, manager Gerhard Jacobs said on Oct. 25. Stores and restaurants in New York have also reported a decline in revenue.

The issues raised by the protesters at St. Paul’s need to be properly addressed by the church as a whole and society, Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the Church of England, said in a statement yesterday.

Glasgow City Council is to go to court to try to evict protesters who have been outside the city chambers since Oct. 15, the British Broadcasting Corp. said on its website. Letters of expulsion have already been issued.

The municipality wants to resolve the issue ahead of Remembrance Day commemorations on Nov. 13, spokesman Colin Edgar told the BBC.

--Editors: Peter Branton, Tim Farrand

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Woodifield in Edinburgh at pwoodifield@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge at ckeatinge@bloomberg.net.


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