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Monday, 4 October 2010

May bans marches from Leicester [from: the Press Association]

- by the UK Press Association

Home Secretary Theresa May has authorised a blanket ban on marches in a city on the day of a planned protest by a right-wing campaign group.

The English Defence League (EDL) intended to demonstrate in Leicester on Saturday October 9 and Unite Against Fascism has planned a protest in the city on the same day.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Having carefully balanced rights to protest against the need to ensure local communities and property are protected, the Home Secretary gave her consent to a Leicester City Council Order banning any marches in the city on October 9."

Despite the ban, groups can still hold static demonstrations in the city.

The Home Office spokesman added: "Leicestershire Constabulary are committed to using their powers to ensure communities and properties are protected and we encourage all local people to work with the police to ensure community cohesion is not undermined by public disorder."

The force said its officers were working with the council and other partners to ensure that any protests, which will be held in Humberstone Gate East in the city, "remain peaceful".

"Police officers will be stopping and searching people on the day as part of our plans to prevent disorder," a force spokesman said. If anyone commits a criminal offence or causes damage or disorder, they will be dealt with fairly but firmly. We do not want people to come into the city just to show opposition to what the protesters stand for. Let the police handle the events."

The Bishop of Leicester, the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, who previously condemned the EDL's activities, said he was "relieved" the march had been banned.

He said: "I am relieved but I still have real concerns. We must continue to approach the situation with caution and care and do everything in our power to ensure the life of the city is not disrupted."

He added: We condemn all who seek to divide and sow the seeds of distrust between our communities. In particular we condemn, in the strongest terms, the activities of the English Defence League, directed against our Muslim brothers and sisters. We also affirm that the EDL's use of the Christian religion to support their perspective is a blasphemous misinterpretation of the Christian Gospel."

Copyright © 2010 The Press Association. All rights reserved.

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