Police letter reveals St Paul’s misled public over Occupy eviction
The following news release has been issued this morning (Friday 25 May 2012):
The City of London Police Commissioner has revealed that St Paul’sCathedral gave the police permission to forcibly remove Occupy protesters from the cathedral steps. This contradicts claims made bythe cathedral authorities.
The news comes as the new Dean of St Paul’s, David Ison, prepares to be formally installed in his post in a ceremony at the cathedral today (Friday).
The cathedral have denied that they gave the police permission to remove Christians who were dragged from the steps as they knelt in prayer during the eviction of the Occupy camp. The court’s eviction order applied only to land belonging to the City of London Corporation.
Adrian Leppard,the City of London Police Commissioner, has now stated in a letter to London Assembly member Jenny Jones: “Permission was given by St Paul’s to clear the steps”. He added: “Any persons remaining on the steps were not there with the permission of St Paul’s and indoing so they became trespassers”.
The Commissioner’sletter contradicts the claims of the Canon Pastor of St Paul’s Cathedral, Michael Colclough. After two weeks during which thecathedral authorities avoided questions on the issue, MichaelColclough claimed on 15 March that “the Corporation [of London]asked the police to clear the area [i.e. the steps]”.
Michael Colclough has refused to meet with five Christians who were dragged from the cathedral steps as they prayed.
Sam Walton, a Quaker dragged from the steps as he prayed, said:
“St Paul’s Cathedral have acted in a fundamentally dishonest and unchristian manner. They have misled the public in saying it was the Corporation of London who had asked for the area to be cleared ofprotesters. I call on the new Dean, David Ison, to launch a thorough investigation into the cathedral’s role in the eviction.”
Siobhan Grimes, an Anglican dragged from the steps as she prayed, said:
“The Trustees of St Paul’s Cathedral repeatedly made statements welcoming Occupy and speaking of social and economic justice. But when push came to shove, they seem to have been more influenced by the wishes of the City of London than inspired to uphold a faith built through communities of radical friendship and social equality. This is a great sadness to the many Christians who uphold the valuesof the Occupy movement as an expression of their faith.”
1. Christianity Uncut is an informal network of Christians campaigning against the UKgovernment’s cuts and the injustices of capitalism. We are inspiredby Jesus, who took nonviolent direct action in the Jerusalem Templein solidarity with people who are poor, exploited and marginalised.
2. The full text of Adrian Leppard’s letter to Jenny Jones, dated 19 April 2012, is as follows:
“Thank you for your letter dated 26th March. I can confirm that permission was given by St Paul’s to clear the steps on 28th February 2012. As part of the post clearance cleansing operation and in agreement with the Corporation of London, the steps to the Cathedral would be steam cleaned along with the rest of the area occupied by the camp. To enable the work to be carried out, the steps had to be clear of people and any persons remaining on the steps were not there with the permission of St Paul’s and in doing so they became trespassers.
“The cleaning process was a lawful activity and those who remained on the steps were causing an obstruction and were directed to leave under Section 69 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. I should add that throughout the Occupy protest period the City of London Police worked a clear strategy that wherever possible facilitated lawful protest and ongoing use of St Paul’s Cathedral.”
3. On 13 March, the Canon Pastor, Michael Colclough, received a letter from five Christians who were removed by police from the cathedral steps as they prayed during the eviction (George Barda, Jonathan Bartley, Siobhan Grimes, Symon Hill and Sam Walton). They requested a meeting with him. The letter was counter-signed by twenty supporting clergy. The Canon Pastor replied on 15 March, turning down the request for a meeting. Responding to questions about the cathedral’s role in the eviction, he stated:
“Followingan approach from the Corporation of the City of London, we gaveconsent to clean the area around the cathedral, including the steps,after any removal of the protest camp. In order to do this, theCorporation asked the police to clear the area temporarily of peopleso that this could be carried out.”
The full text of the letter can be found here.
4. Photographs are available of the forced removal of theChristians during the eviction from the steps on 28 February.Photographs are also available of the five signatories standing onthe steps on 13 March with their letter to the CanonPastor.
5. More details on the forced eviction are available here.