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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 August 2006, 19:29 GMT 20:29 UK
Police deal with protest deluge
Mark Thomas
Mark Thomas has been organising the protest against the ban
Dozens of protesters have been flooding police with requests to demonstrate about issues ranging from the Iraq war to "Goth Pride".

Those filing into Charing Cross police station say a new law requiring all protests near Parliament to have police permission is "ridiculous".

They have been applying individually to protest in Parliament Square next week to create more work for the police.

The Home Office says the new law is necessary for security reasons.

Under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, all types of demonstration held within half a mile of Parliament, must first get the permission of the police.

The exclusion zone, which has the full support of the police, is in place for sensible security reasons
Home Office

It was initially prompted by anti-war protester Brian Haw's five-year anti-war vigil outside Parliament.

He is still there, albeit with far fewer signs, after successfully applying for police permission. It had been argued that a bomb could be left under the signs.

A Home Office spokesman told the BBC: "The exclusion zone, which has the full support of the police, is in place for sensible security reasons.

"Applications for protests in the zone are dealt with by the police and considered on a case by case basis."

'That's nuts'

But comedian Mark Thomas, who has organised next week's demonstration, said it was ridiculous that one person wearing a badge in Parliament Square could be arrested if they did not have a licence.

"They can be fined for being opposite Parliament, the home of our democracy, with a badge - and that's nuts," he said.

"If the government and police are saying there could be a terrorist threat unless they get terrorists to licence a demonstration to be there, that's patently absurd."

Protesters queuing up for licences to demonstrate at 1800 BST next Wednesday included pro-cyclists, anti-war demonstrators, people calling for free tampons on the NHS and "Goth pride" protesters.

There have already been several attempts to protest at the ban - including holding organised tea parties in Parliament Square, and a carol service by peace campaigners.


SEE ALSO
Activist fined for illegal demo
12 Apr 06 |  London
Artist T-shirt demo 'a success'
17 Dec 05 |  London
Protest ban zone 'goes too far'
15 Jun 05 |  London

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