EDL east London protest: 60 arrests after clashes

Police now say a total of 60 people were arrested when violence flared during and after a protest by the English Defence League in east London.

Far-right demonstrators from the EDL went ahead with action on Saturday afternoon despite home secretary Theresa May’s 30-day ban against marching in six areas of London.

More than 3,000 police officers were made available amid fears of violence and clashes with opposition groups, including United Against Fascism.

Riot police, mounted police and dogs took to the streets to maintain control.

Police vans from forces including Cumbria, Lancashire and Grampian could be seen.

A Met spokesman said two groups gathered - one of around 1,000 people, believed to be EDL members, at Aldgate Tube, and a separate group of around 1,500 counter-protesters in Whitechapel Road at its junction with Aldgate East.

The atmosphere was described by police as “calm and peaceful” but later there were some clashes between demonstrators and police, with bottles and firecrackers thrown by members of the EDL.

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Skirmishes broke out as EDL leader Stephen “Tommy” Lennon addressed a crowd, telling them he had broken bail conditions to be at the protest.

By the end of the afternoon 16 people had been arrested for a variety of offences including affray, drunk and disorderly and assault on a police officer. Lennon was not one of those arrested.

EDL protesters were dispersed after police led them across Tower Bridge. Several were seen receiving medical attention from officers.

Later in the evening 44 people on a coach taking EDL supporters away were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder.

Police said that at about 6.30pm the coach stopped in Whitechapel Road. Some passengers got off, and an altercation took place with some local youths who had gathered.

Shortly after, the coach broke down outside Stepney Green Underground station, and a further disturbance took place.

Officers attended transferred the passengers before escorting them out of the area.

Subsequently police arrested all the people on the coach, and they are currently in various London police stations.

Earlier in the week the EDL told the Met Police it would hold a “static” demonstration in the wake of the home secretary’s ban against marching.

It was the first time since the Brixton riots 30 years ago that police had requested powers to stop marches in London.

While concern of unrest centred on the deprived inner city borough of Tower Hamlets, Mrs May also banned marches in Newham, Waltham Forest, Islington, Hackney and the City of London amid fears that demonstrations could spill across the border.

Anyone who witnessed any of the disturbances is asked to contact police via 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.