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Britain's Occupy movement picks up steam


An Occupy-flavoured gathering of the tribes is underway in London, as Occupiers from across the country converge on London, where an abandoned building belonging to UBS has been liberated for a symposium where they're planning the nation's future.

The fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, 70, became the latest high-profile supporter to address protesters on Saturday, on the steps of St Paul's. She said that the global financial crisis was intrinsically linked to the world's ecological travails, and called for people to embrace culture as a means to help wean them "off the drug of consumerism".

Her appearance followed a speech from Alessio Rastani, an independent financial trader, who has warned that "the savings of millions of people are going to vanish" and that investment banks had become more powerful than governments. His warnings were followed by an address from Nicholas Shaxson, the author of Treasure Islands, an investigation into tax havens and offshore banking networks. Occupy's critique of the financial system and its calls for a fairer replacement will continue next week with speeches at the TUC Conference Hall in central London, a sign that unions may be starting to form official alliances with the movement.

Unions are finalising plans for a day of industrial action against public-sector pensions cuts on 30 November.

Tanya Paton of Occupy London said: "Groups are coming together for the first time; the movement is becoming stronger throughout the UK. We are sharing ways to overcome problems and work together to build and define a national campaign."

Occupy UK converges on London

(Image: UBS You Owe US - Occupy London, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from aroberts's photostream)

OccupyLondon members evicted from St Paul's memorial services

OccupyLondon protesters who attempted to attend services at St Paul's cathedral on Memorial Day were ejected by private security forces who told them they were not welcome at St Paul's as there was royalty in attendance and "other churches will have you lot." Church officials expressed dismay at the news and have vowed to investigate.

"Some St Paul's workers and men in pinstripe suits and ear microphones came over and asked what we were doing. Jim wanted to talk to Canon Michael [Colclough]. I told them I wasn't there as a protester. I took off all my badges. I told them I had come as a member of the public."

She said: "They told me I couldn't be there because I was a member of Occupy London. They couldn't have protesters there. I said I had dead to mourn, and they replied they had royalty in the cathedral."

The 33-year-old, who is Christian, said she approached cathedral staff to ask for help. "What they said is that other churches will have you lot. I'm always in and out of the cathedral. I'm terribly distressed – they are ripping my faith away from me.

Occupy London protesters say they were asked to leave St Paul's services

Scotland Yard arrest EDL members over alleged plot to attack Occupy London

Scotland Yard have arrested 179 members of the ultra-right English Defense League for plotting an attack on the OccupyLondon protesters encamped at St Paul's cathedral in London. The EDL had sent a statement to the Occupy camp threatening violence if protesters didn't leave "their" church and "stop violating their religion." EDL members also posted arson threats to Facebook. The police arrested the EDL members as they massed near St Paul's. An EDL spokesman denies that violence was imminent.

Scotland Yard said they believed a breach of the peace was about to take place after they got intelligence that the EDL were planning the Armistice Day attack. The law states officers can arrest if they believe the breach of the peace to be "imminent."

A member of the tented community outside the cathedral expressed gratitude to the police for preventing any violence.

"It is fantastic if they are using their resources to try and stop people getting on to this site," said Bryn Phillips, a member of the Occupy LSX community. "If this has prevented violence then I am pleased."

Police arrest EDL members to 'avert planned attack' in London

Home Secretary to OccupyLondon: you're scaring the tourists

Theresa May, the UK Home Secretary, has asked the OccupyLondon protesters to move away from St Paul's cathedral so that tourists won't get the wrong idea about the place. Cory

Corporation of London "pauses" action against OccupyLondon

The Corporation of London has "paused" its legal action against the OccupyLondon protesters camped outside of St Paul's Cathedral, in the wake of the Cathedral's decision to drop legal action altogether. The Corporation assures the public that it still plans to pursue legal action to remove the protests, but just not right now: "We’re hoping to use a pause – probably of days not weeks – to work out a measured solution." Cory

St Paul's Cathedral drops eviction effort against OccupyLondon; almighty Corporation of London plows ahead

Following an earlier signal from the Bishop of London, as well as the resignations of three prominent clerics, St Paul's cathedral has withdrawn from its legal action against the OccupyLondon demonstrators camped around its grounds.

A member of the group responsible for liaison with the cathedral said they had met the Chapter of St Paul's, the church's governing body, at 11am: "We were informed that they will no longer be proceeding with legal action against us." Cue loud cheers and applause.

Another activist then read out the full St Paul's statement to the assembly, which was punctuated with cheers - notably, when Giles Fraser's name was mentioned. News of Ken Costa's involvement was greeted with silence, apart from one man just behind me who muttered: "Yeah, great."

The church liaison committee will meet the St Paul's Chapter again tomorrow, with issues to be discussed including access to the cathedral during busy upcoming events such as Remembrance Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

That leaves the Corporation of London alone in its mission to evict OccupyLondon. The Corporation is a sinister and eccentric body that runs the "Square Mile" -- the headquarters of Britain's financial industry -- with near-total autonomy, as a kind of special economic zone or a country-within-a-country. Seriously, they make conspiracy nuts look reasonable:

What is this thing? Ostensibly it's the equivalent of a local council, responsible for a small area of London known as the Square Mile. But, as its website boasts, "among local authorities the City of London is unique". You bet it is. There are 25 electoral wards in the Square Mile. In four of them, the 9,000 people who live within its boundaries are permitted to vote. In the remaining 21, the votes are controlled by corporations, mostly banks and other financial companies. The bigger the business, the bigger the vote: a company with 10 workers gets two votes, the biggest employers, 79. It's not the workers who decide how the votes are cast, but the bosses, who "appoint" the voters. Plutocracy, pure and simple...

The City has exploited this remarkable position to establish itself as a kind of offshore state, a secrecy jurisdiction which controls the network of tax havens housed in the UK's crown dependencies and overseas territories. This autonomous state within our borders is in a position to launder the ill-gotten cash of oligarchs, kleptocrats, gangsters and drug barons. As the French investigating magistrate Eva Joly remarked, it "has never transmitted even the smallest piece of usable evidence to a foreign magistrate". It deprives the United Kingdom and other nations of their rightful tax receipts.

It has also made the effective regulation of global finance almost impossible. Shaxson shows how the absence of proper regulation in London allowed American banks to evade the rules set by their own government. AIG's wild trading might have taken place in the US, but the unit responsible was regulated in the City. Lehman Brothers couldn't get legal approval for its off-balance sheet transactions in Wall Street, so it used a London law firm instead. No wonder priests are resigning over the plans to evict the campers. The Church of England is not just working with Mammon; it's colluding with Babylon.

St Paul's suspends legal action against protesters – live coverage

Bishop of London to St Paul's: distance yourself

Richard Chartres, the bishop of London, "is expected to urge the chapter of St Paul's... to dissociate itself from the legal action [brought by the City of London] to expel the [Occupy London] protesters." Three senior clerics have resigned their postings at St Paul's in protest over the planned use of force to compel protesters to leave the area in front of the cathedral. The Archbishop of Canterbury says, "The events of the last couple of weeks have shown very clearly how decisions made in good faith by good people under unusual pressure can have utterly unforeseen and unwelcome consequences." Cory

Dean of St Paul's resigns over plan to evict OccupyLondon

Graeme Knowles, the dean of St Paul's Cathedral, has resigned his position over St Paul's plan to evict the OccupyLondon protesters. He joins Giles Fraser, the former canon of St Paul's, who resigned last week, along with Fraser Dyer, the cathedral chaplain.

The Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, the dean of St Paul's, announced he was resigning with immediate effect, saying that the row over the Occupy London site had made his position "untenable".

Dean of St Paul's Cathedral resigns over Occupy London protests

Canon of St Paul's resigns over plans to evict OccupyLondon

Giles Fraser, a canon at London's St Paul's Cathedral, has resigned his job and given up his church residence in protest of the plan to forcibly evict the Occupy London protesters camped in St Paul's Square.

It may have been that accessibility to the media and willingness to be outspoken, together with his instinctive sympathy for the anti-City protesters setting up camp outside St Paul's, that led him to ask the police to back off when the protest began.

He will also have realised, as some of his colleagues did not, how the cathedral chapter's attempts to close the camp down – and their over-reaction in closing the cathedral – would play in the outside world and how it would make the church appear: scared, cowed, out-of-touch and pro-establishment – the very things he consistently preaches against in sermons and broadcasts.

Giles Fraser: the St Paul's Cathedral cleric who prefers jeans and a T-shirt