Far-right English Defence League banned from marching in Islington
Police have been granted a ban on marches in Islington after fears a protest by an extreme right-wing group could spark disorder.
Policing minister Damian Green today agreed to a request by Scotland Yard to temporarily ban marches in Islington and three other boroughs – Waltham Forest, Newham and Tower Hamlets.
The far-right English Defence League (EDL) was planning to march on Walthamstow, Waltham Forest, on Saturday and there were fears the action could bring violence to Islington.
Finsbury Park Mosque, in St Thomas’s Road, Finsbury Park, was identified as a possible “target for disorder” while there were worries about members of the EDL gathering in King’s Cross.
In an e-mail to councillors seen by the Gazette, Cllr Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for community safety, wrote: “The police service has sought a banning area that includes Islington because there are concerns that locations around Finsbury Park, including the mosque, may be targets for disorderly gathering. There is also an Arsenal home match that afternoon which will add to a potentially difficult public order situation.”
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He added: “From past experience many of the EDL membership will travel to London by rail which means they are likely to arrive at King’s Cross and St Pancras stations and seek to make their way by Underground to Waltham Forest. This puts stress on the King’s Cross area and on tube station locations between there and Walthamstow.
“Last summer, a similar EDL march planned for Tower Hamlets saw a gathering of aggressive EDL members at the junction of Pentonville Road and Caledonian Road.”
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Responding to news of the ban’s approval, the leaders of Labour-run Islington Council and the Lib Dem opposition group issued a rare joint statement.
Cllr Catherine West (Labour) and Cllr Terry Stacy (Lib Dem) said: “Islington’s strength is its diversity and this council is united in opposing the proposed English Defence League march. We fully support the minister’s decision to approve the Metropolitan Police’s request for a banning order.”
The EDL may still attempt to hold a stationary rally.