The far-right group originally intended to march through the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Newham, Islington and Hackney but a 30-day ban was imposed after an appeal from the Metropolitan Police over public order concerns. The ban was then extended to cover the City of London. The Met say 3000 officers will be on hand to prevent violent clashes.
The decision to ban the march has been criticised by freedom of speech campaigners – Liberty’s legal director James Welch said:
‘The police and home secretary must realise how serious it is to ban marches in a free country.’
The Met points out that it wasn’t an easy decision to make:
‘We have not sought this power since 1981 - which shows how we do not take this lightly. As far as Saturday is concerned, both parties have requested a static demonstration and we will be negotiating with them suitable locations with the aim of minimising disorder.’
Opposition groups including Unite Against Fascism are organising a counter demonstration Their website reported that the RMT had threatened to stop work on health and safety grounds if a planned muster at Liverpool Street station went ahead, which has to be one of the few occasions when Londoners might actually support a walkout. They are also calling on two Euston pubs to stop EDL members using their premises as meeting points.
The EDL said: ‘Placing a ban on the EDL march gives out completely the wrong message. It suggests that it is the EDL, and not the extremism that we demonstrate about, which needs to be kept in check.’