With the consent of the protesters, the human rights group has written to the Cathedral authorities and the City of London Corporation offering to hold talks on neutral ground at its Westminster office.
The move is aimed at trying to achieve a peaceful and non-violent resolution to the dispute about the ongoing demonstration – without the need for legal action following a week-long closure of St Paul’s. Yesterday the Cathedral chancellor, Canon Dr Giles Fraser, resigned over his fears that plans to evict the demonstrators could lead to violence.
The City of London Corporation, the local authority for the Square Mile, and St Paul’s are now thought to be considering issuing a joint claim seeking possession of the land – arguing obstruction of the highway. If that is so, a court hearing could follow as soon as the end of next week.
Liberty suggests that all sides sit down and discuss their concerns at its Liberty House headquarters in a bid to avoid lengthy litigation and any possibility of a forced eviction around one of Britain’s most famous landmarks.
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said:
“The rights to peaceful dissent and freedom of worship are cornerstones of British democracy that Liberty has stood for since 1934.
“We find it hard to believe that there can't be sensible resolution of the apparent stalemate at St Paul’s without the need for expensive litigation and violent eviction when Church, London and police resources could be so much better spent.
“It is extremely heartening that the demonstrators have accepted our invitation to come to talks at Liberty House and we have every hope the authorities will do the same. We all have a duty in these difficult times to preserve our capital's reputation as a free and open city where people generally live and let live in peace and mutual respect."
Contact: Liberty’s press office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831128
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. A number of fundamental rights and freedoms may be engaged in this dispute. Article 1 of the First Protocol of the Human Rights Act protects the right to peaceful enjoyment of property and possessions. Article 9 of the Act protects the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Article 10 protects the right to freedom of expression. Article 11 protects the right to protest and freedom of association. All of these Articles are subject only to such limitations that are necessary, proportionate and prescribed by law.