London protest camp 'magnet' for trouble, court told
The anti-capitalist camp outside St Paul's Cathedral is a "magnet" for crime, drunks and drug addicts, the High Court in London heard at the start of a four-day hearing over eviction proceedings.
The City of London Corporation -- the local authority in London's financial district -- is arguing that unless injunctions are granted, the camp outside the London landmark will continue indefinitely.
Up to 200 demonstrators are based at the makeshift camp, which sprung up on October 15 in reaction to the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York.
David Forsdick, the lawyer for the Corporation of London, said the authority was acting to protect the rights and freedoms of local trade and others going about their normal business.
"When one considers the impacts which arise -- despite the efforts of some of the protesters to mitigate impacts -- the case for the orders sought becomes overwhelming," he told the court.
He said the limited interference with the protesters' rights, which the requirement to remove the tents would entail, was justified and proportionate.
Forsdick said the Occupy London Stock Exchange camp had been a magnet for people who had caused disorder, with a substantial increase in crime reported in the area since the camp began.
And while protesters had made efforts to keep the camp clean, urination and defecation were posing a significant problem.
The Corporation had also been concerned about the wellbeing of those suffering from mental illness, alcoholism or drug addiction who had been attracted to the camp, he said.
The evidence from many witnesses was of chaotic and vulnerable people causing significant disorder at the camp, the court heard.
"This is a threat to them and to others," Forsdick said.
The hearing continues Tuesday.
© 2011 AFP