Protesters clash in London as far-right EDL marchers met by anti-fascists

Mark Chandler

Protesters clashed in central London as far-right supporters were met by anti-fascist campaigners in central London.

A march and rally planned by Britain First and the English Defence League (EDL) is taking place near a counter demonstration from Unite Against Fascism (UAF).

Frantic scenes unfolded when ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson arrived and a high number of police officers moved to contain potential trouble.

Police said 12 people had been arrested by 2pm as the protests continued through the capital.

Crowds had gathered in Trafalgar Square from around midday and must obey conditions imposed by the Metropolitan Police which include following a set route.

Clash: Protesters tussle with police (PA)

UAF protesters, who appeared to vastly outnumber the far-right, chanted "EDL go to hell" and hundreds of protesters spilled onto the surrounding roads.

Many of those taking part wore masks which covered their faces.

Trouble: A demonstrator falls to the ground in front of police (PA)

Scotland Yard said on Friday that the information and intelligence available to the Met meant that they felt it necessary to impose the conditions to prevent the demonstrations from resulting in "serious disorder, serious damage to property, serious disruption to the life of the community, and to prevent the intimidation of local people trying to go about their business".

Chief Superintendent Catherine Roper said: "The right to protest is a fundamental right in our democratic society, but this right must be balanced against the right of people to go about their day without fear of violence, disorder or disruption.

"Experience has shown us that when groups with conflicting views come together it can create tension and disorder, not just on the day itself but in the longer term.

"What we have had to carefully consider is how to balance the right to protest with the negative impact on our communities and potential violence and disorder that may have resulted from these protests going ahead as they were suggested.

"If you want to protest on Saturday, we ask that you do so peacefully, no matter what your view. We will adopt a robust arrest policy on anyone who attends and is intent on violence and disorder, or is in breach of these conditions."