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Agence France Presse

London Protesters Face Legal Action


LONDON - Anti-capitalist protesters camped outside London's St. Paul's Cathedral were waiting Tuesday for a notice telling them to pack up their tents or face legal action.

The City of London Corporation local authority was to hand a letter to demonstrators who have turned the churchyard into a sprawling campsite and triggered turmoil in the cathedral hierarchy.

On Monday, Graeme Knowles, the head of St. Paul's, resigned after facing criticism for trying to move on the protesters, who are inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States.

The Occupy London Stock Exchange (OLSX) group pitched up in the churchyard two weeks ago. Around 200 multi-coloured tents are spread out by the entrance and the north side of the cathedral.

"We are intending to hand a letter asking them to remove their tents," a Corporation spokeswoman told AFP, while refusing to specify when the letter would be delivered.

"We're happy for them to protest, it's just the tents," she added.

An OLSX spokesman said they were waiting for the legal notice.

"We're remaining calm," Iain Chamberlain, 27, told AFP.

"There is no clear news about when we would be evicted. We haven't received or been served letters of injunction, but we have a legal team who can advise," he said.

The dispute over the protesters has plunged the Anglican church into crisis as it wrings its hands over how to handle the demonstrators while maintaining its principles.

Knowles became the third churchman to quit over the issue in the space of a week, saying his position had become "untenable".


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St. Paul's said Tuesday the cathedral was not taking joint action with the Corporation in legal moves to clear the camp.

"Members of chapter met yesterday following the resignation of the dean and are due to meet with the Bishop of London today," a spokesman said.

"The chapter have not yet sought an injunction, nor are they serving notices on the protesters. They are committed to a peaceful resolution at all costs."

Overnight around 50 of the protesters, dressed as zombie bankers, marched into the city to mark Halloween.

They danced to Michael Jackson's 1984 hit "Thriller", stopping traffic outside the Bank of England. Police moved them on but they resurrected the dance outside the Royal Bank of Scotland's offices.

Home Secretary Theresa May urged the authorities to coordinate moves to clear the encampment.

"What I want to see is the church authorities and the Corporation of London and the police working together to ensure that the protesters can be moved as soon as possible," the interior minister said.

The protesters remain defiant, with many vowing to stay until they are forced from the site.

"The mood is extremely positive. We're going to fight this, we're not giving up," said 22-year-old student Don Court.

Flo, 35, who declined to give her last name, said the threat of legal action may actually benefit their campaign.

"A court case would probably highlight the plight even more. We haven't got anything to lose, it's not like we've got jobs to go to, so going to court is giving us something to do," she said.

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