Judge delivers Christmas cheer to Occupy London camp

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Anti-capitalist protesters camped outside London's St Paul's Cathedral will spend Christmas under canvas after a judge hearing the case for their removal said he would not reach a verdict until next year.

The City of London Corporation -- the local authority in London's financial district -- urged judge Keith Lindblom to deliver an immediate eviction order following the four-day High Court hearing.

However, Lindblom told the court he would "deal with the matter in the conventional way, rather than the unconventional way."

The judge said he needed time to reflect on his decision given the length of the hearing, and that he would not reach a verdict before January 11.

David Forsdick, the counsel for the City of London Corporation, earlier called for immediate eviction orders to be issued, though allowing a five-day window to give protesters the chance to appeal.

"There is an opportunity for the protest camp to have a happy Christmas and then to leave peacefully and with dignity before the City is forced into action, before any enforcement becomes necessary," he said.

Earlier in the hearing, Forsdick said the camp had become a "magnet" for crime, drunks and drug addicts.

Up to 200 demonstrators are based at the makeshift camp, which sprang up on October 15 in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street action in New York.

Michael Paget, a lawyer for a representative of the group, refuted the claims and called on the judge to heed the message of Christmas when considering its verdict.

"The camp has been in existence for over nine weeks without any serious public order issues arising," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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