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Sunday, 12 September 2010

Leicestershire police and city council may ban English Defence League demo

Theresa May
Police and city council bosses are investigating measures to ban the controversial English Defence League from marching in Leicester.

Senior officers at Leicestershire police and Leicester City Council are considering asking Home Secretary Theresa May to prohibit a march it is believed the group is aiming to stage next month.

The English Defence League (EDL), which says it is opposed to Islamic extremism, has said it intends to hold a demonstration in Leicester on Saturday, October 9.

Crucially, it has not said whether it intends to stage a march through the city or a static demonstration.
To obtain permission to march, it must formally apply to the authorities to agree a route and timing.

The Home Secretary can step in to ban marches, if there is a credible threat of violence and disorder but only following a request by a council and police force.

However, neither the police nor the Home Secretary have any power to ban static demonstrations. But conditions can be imposed to control the location, size and duration of a demonstration.

The EDL, whose critics accuse of using violent tactics during recent protests in Bradford and Nottingham, did not respond to a request by the Mercury yesterday for it to clarify its plans.

Leicester City Council also said yesterday it had nothing to add to a statement it issued earlier this week in which it confirmed it was holding discussions with senior police officers.

Councillor Mohammed Dawood, the city council's cabinet member for community cohesion, said the council and police would follow the correct legal procedures if the EDL confirmed its intention to march.

He said: "The EDL has held protests in other cities and there always seems to be public order issues.

"Leicester is a strong city and it will overcome this if the EDL does come here."

Patrick Kitterick, whose Castle ward includes the city centre, said: "There is always a balance to be struck between civil liberties but my feeling is the EDL is not welcome in Leicester."

The Leicester Multicultural Advisory Group, an informal group of community leaders, police officers and city council representatives, will discuss the EDL demonstration today.

The Leicestershire Federation of Muslim Organisations, which represents most of the mosques in the city and county, yesterday said the EDL's presence could cause tensions.

This is Leicestershire