The City of London Corporation have won their legal bid to evict the Occupy protesters from their campsite outside St Paul's Cathedral.
The corporation sought a High Court ruling after a previous effort to evict the group was unsuccessful. Occupy's presence at St Paul's has divided the church and the corporation — legal action by St Paul's to clear their land of demonstrators' tents led to a series of resignations and a climbdown from senior clergy members.
Occupy are currently in possession of four sites in London; the original St Paul's camp, Finsbury Square, a building in Sun Street and the former Old Street Magistrates' Court. Despite legal action from UBS who own the Sun Street building, billed as the Bank of Ideas, the Occupiers won the right to stay there until January while Islington Council who cover the Old Street and Finsbury Square sites have said they will not undertake legal proceedings to remove the protesters.
The City of London Corporation have said that they hope Occupy will leave the site peacefully, while Occupy say they plan to appeal the ruling. Stuart Fraser, the City of London Corporation's policy chairman, said:
"We took this action to clear the tents and equipment at St Paul's. We hope the protesters will now remove the tents voluntarily. If not, and subject to any appeal proceedings, we will be considering enforcement action as soon as possible."
Although claiming to have no specific demands, Occupy have aligned themselves with anti-capitalist campaigners and have gained a great deal of support — Radiohead and Massive Attack performed at a secret gig before Christmas and the camps have attracted a number of high profile visitors, in the process becoming a byword for a form of protest which the government seeks to outlaw.
Needless to say, Occupy don't see the High Court decision in quite the same way: Following the court’s decision today, the Occupy London group tweeted: