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Friday, 31 January, 2003, 07:19 GMT
Anti-war protesters fight rally ban
Stop the War Coalition supporters
Thousands joined previous demonstrations across UK
Anti-war protesters who have been told they cannot hold a rally in a central London park because the ground will be too wet are to fight the ban.

Three groups opposed to war with Iraq met in London on Friday to discuss the Stop the War demonstration which was scheduled to go ahead on 15 February.

The protest is expected to attract 500,000 people to central London and Hyde Park.

But they have been told that the Royal Parks Agency (RPA) has denied permission for the rally in Hyde Park for safety reasons and to protect the grass.

Our organisations are ready to continue discussions about any legitimate concerns which the authorities or others may wish to raise

Stop the War spokesman
Organisers say the decision jeopardises civil liberties and say the reasons given are "spurious".

They claim to have discussed the plans with the RPA before Christmas and claim there is no question of the rally being cancelled.

A spokesman for the Stop the War Coalition said: "We believe that this can and should be in Hyde Park, the more so since no realistic alternative venue has been suggested.

"We urge the government to direct the Royal Parks Agency to lift the ban straight away.

"Our organisations are ready to continue discussions about any legitimate concerns which the authorities or others may wish to raise."

Royal Parks Agency chief executive William Weston said they had been vetoed the rally following discussions with the Metropolitan Police and Westminster Council.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC London's Gareth Furby
"At a news conference at the House of Commons the talk was not of preparing for war, but how best to stop it."

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29 Jan 03 | Politics
02 Dec 02 | Politics
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