Peace camp costs Met £110,000

£110,000 bill to stop parliament protest
£110,000 bill to stop parliament protest

The Liberal Democrats have criticised the "ridiculous" cost of policing anti-war protester Brian Haw.

Mr Haw has held a six-year vigil outside parliament in protest at the Iraq war, despite concerted government efforts to remove him.

Scotland Yard confirmed today the cost of policing Mr Haw's make-shift peace camp was £110,000 in 2006 - four times the original estimate of £27,000.

A spokeswoman for the Met told the original estimate referred only to the policing operation to remove Mr Haw. The total costs included the high visibility patrols in response to other protests in Parliament Square.

An attempt to scale back Mr Haw's encampment in May last year demanded the equivalent of 428 officer shifts, the report to the Metropolitan Police Authority revealed.

The incident saw Met officers carry out a night time raid on the peace camp and remove many of Mr Haw's placards and banners, scaling back the camp from a 40 metre wide area to three square metres.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said the government's attempts to remove Mr Haw had been characterised by "laughable incompetence and expense".

Mr Clegg said: "First they sought to legislate against him only to find that the law could not be applied to him.

"And now we discover that thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money have been spent attempting to remove a single individual from parliament square.

"The government and police have contrived to make a mountain out of a molehill," Mr Clegg concluded.

In 2005 the government passed a law designed to remove the 57-year-old anti-war protester, originally from Redditch in Worcestershire.

The High Court ruled the Serious Organised Crime and Police (SOCP) Act 2005 could not be applied retrospectively against Mr Haw. After an appeal by the Home Office the police were allowed to impose restrictions on Mr Haw, resulting in the May raid.

In February Mr Haw was voted the Most Inspiring Political Figure of 2007 by Channel 4. A replica of his peace camp has been installed in Tate Britain.

The SOCP Act also banned protests within a half-mile radius of parliament without advance permission from the Metropolitan police commissioner.

Gordon Brown has said he will look into revoking the law as part of his constitutional reform programme.


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