EDL leaders lose High Court fight to march to East London Mosque
PUBLISHED: 16:52 06 September 2013 | UPDATED: 16:55 06 September 2013
Leaders of the English Defence League have lost a High Court fight for the right to demonstrate in Tower Hamlets tomorrow after claiming the area is "subject to Sharia law".
They objected to police preventing an English Defence League (EDL) march entering the borough near the East London Mosque in Whitechapel.
Police said they had imposed restrictions on marchers because they feared an outbreak of “serious public disorder”.
Judge Mr Justice King ruled that the police decision was reasonable and proportionate, following a High Court hearing in London.
He blocked an EDL attempt to pursue a judicial review.
Lawyers for the EDL said police had imposed “disproportionate” restrictions on the march route because of concerns about counter-demonstrations.
They said the EDL wanted to highlight concerns that Tower Hamlets was subject to Sharia law and that people had been assaulted for failing to comply.
Lawyers said the EDL - which describes itself as a “human rights organisation” and says it believes that “proponents of radical Islam have a stranglehold on British Muslims” - wanted to demonstrate peacefully.
But the Metropolitan Police said senior officers had decided to stop the march a third of a mile short of its intended destination in the hope of preventing “serious” disorder.
Police lawyers said people taking part in EDL marches could be “unreasonably” provocative.
They said police thought that between 1,000 and 2,000 people would take part in the EDL march and “several thousand” in counter demonstrations by groups including Unite Against Fascism.
They said, if EDL marchers protested in the “faces” of the people their demonstration was aimed at and rival demonstrators clashed, police would be faced with “crisis management”.
Mr Justice King, who was told that Tower Hamlets had the biggest Muslim population in the country, said the EDL had not shown the police decision to be unlawful, irrational, unreasonable or disproportionate.