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Tuesday, 18 April, 2000, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
National Front march banned
National Front march
Violence has followed previous NF marches
Home Secretary Jack Straw has banned a St George's Day march by the National Front through Worcester over the Easter weekend.



I understand the concerns of those who say that this is a restriction of freedom of speech

Assistant Chief Constable Peter Neyroud
The city council, backed by West Mercia Police applied to Mr Straw to block Saturday's march - prior to St George's Day on Sunday - fearing an outbreak of violence.

Plans for the march were also opposed by ethnic minority groups and religious leaders.

Violence erupted at a NF march against asylum seekers in Margate, Kent on 9 April when Anti Nazi League supporters protesting against the march clashed with police.

Assistant Chief Constable Peter Neyroud said: "I understand the concerns of those who say that this is a restriction of freedom of speech but we have a duty to balance that freedom against the freedom of others to go about their everyday lives without the fears of serious public disorder."

'Public disorder'

David Barlow, chair of the urgent decisions committee on Worcester council, said: "The march would have caused severe public disorder particularly at a busy holiday period when families, tourists and local people should be allowed to enjoy the weekend peacefully and safely.

"The decision sends out a message to people that extreme behaviour against minority groups is not welcome in Worcester."

A Home Office spokeswoman said the ban had been made under the Public Order Act.

"Mr Straw has taken advice from West Mercia Police and Worcester City Council that serious public disorder would be likely to occur if the march went ahead."

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