Anti-cuts demo unrest sees 149 charged

Police have charged 149 people so far after unrest which followed a peaceful anti-spending cuts protest in London.

A mob attacked police officers, smashed windows and daubed banks and shops with paint on Saturday, following a peaceful march and rally organised by the TUC.

A total of 201 arrests were made, most of them after a campaign group staged a sit-in at a luxury store in Piccadilly.

Scotland Yard said the violence from some people "could not have been more markedly different" to the TUC event.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the government will not change its economic strategy as a result of the TUC protest.

Store occupation

The TUC said 250,000 to 500,000 people attended the march, which passed off without incident.

But a group wearing scarves to hide their faces started attacking shops and banks, clashing with some of the 4,500 police on duty.

Trouble flared in central London in Oxford Street, Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square.

The Metropolitan Police said 145 of the arrests were in connection with a demonstration by campaign group UK Uncut, which occupied luxury grocery store Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly in protest over alleged tax avoidance by the business's part owners.

The group, which has carried out a number of protests in recent months, has distanced itself from protesters who damaged property and attacked police on Saturday.

Commander Bob Broadhurst, who led the Met Police operation, revealed activists had developed their tactics to avoid police by staying on the move, using small alleyways and covering their faces.
Joe Lynam

BBC News

The main organisation involved in the protest was the TUC.

It organised the rally which attracted more than 250,000 demonstrators. Its message was that the government's spending cuts go too far. Other protests were staged by a variety of activists.

The UK Uncut group aims to highlight what it describes as the inequality of the British legal and tax system which it claims enables wealthy individuals and firms to pay a fraction of the tax of smaller. It aims to use direct action but does not advocate violence.

That cannot be said of a third group out in force - anarchists and anti-capitalists appear to have used the cover of the march - and UK Uncut protest - to target what they see as symbols of capitalism.

Many retailers are privately livid that the image of ruined shop fronts might damage their business in the long run