Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- The City of London’s request for authority to evict protesters camped outside St. Paul’s Cathedral was scheduled to go to trial Dec. 19.
Judge Alan Wilkie made the ruling at a hearing today, saying, there was a “need for urgent resolution.”
The City had asked for a trial by Dec. 7 to determine whether it could remove the “semi-permanent camp” housing Occupy London protesters, said David Forsdick, an attorney for the City.
“It is necessary to do so as a pressing social need, in order to protect the rights and freedoms of others” on the site, he said. “The City is entitled to have the proceedings heard as quickly as possible.”
John Cooper, the lawyer for the protesters, said they intended to “vehemently dispute” the City’s claims about the camp.
The “Occupy” movement began in the U.S. with hundreds of protesters camping in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan to complain about bankers’ pay, bailouts and cuts in government spending. The protests have since spread to four continents.
There have been clashes in New York, Oakland, California, and Portland, Oregon, as authorities tried to remove camps set up near financial districts. Tents in Zuccotti Park were cleared by New York police Nov. 15.
The City of London Corporation, which oversees the financial district, voted to restart legal action to clear the site because tents, equipment and garbage are on a public highway, City of London policy chairman Stuart Fraser said in a statement last week. The corporation filed a lawsuit against the protesters at the U.K. High Court on Nov. 21.
“While the corporation is worried about what’s happening on this little piece of land, we are concerned about what’s happening in society,” Occupy London spokesman Ronan McNern said.
Eviction notices were pinned to shelters outside St. Paul’s Cathedral on Nov. 16, giving protesters 24 hours to leave.
Occupy London protesters also moved into a vacant office building belonging to a unit of UBS AG on Nov. 17.
The case is City of London v. Persons Unknown, High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division, No. HQ11X04327.
--Editors: Christopher Scinta, Anthony Aarons
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