Armed police officers have dispersed large crowds of anti-lockdown protesters at Trafalgar Square following a march through central London on Saturday, which saw thousands gather against coronavirus restrictions.
Demonstrators called for an end to the ‘tyranny’ of pandemic restrictions and voiced their opposition to vaccines and paedophilia, playing Michael Jackson’s greatest hits via a PA system as they marched.
At least 10 people were led away in handcuffs by officers at Trafalgar Square, and Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, also attended the protest who once again joined demonstrators after appearing at court charged with flouting coronavirus rules.
Protesters refused to wear masks and wielded signs demanding an end to restrictions on personal freedom imposed as part of efforts to control Covid-19.
One banner being wielded by a protester on Oxford Street read: ‘Martial law coming, think it’s still about health?’ while another depicted a mask with a cross through it alongside words which read, ‘love not fear’ and ‘unite not divide.’
The anti-lockdown demonstrators also marched down Northumberland Avenue, while large crowds also gathered outside Buckingham Palace, prompting police to be deployed.
An anti-lockdown protester is lead away by police after being restrained during a demonstration against lockdown measures in Westminster, London, Britain, amid the coronavirus pandemic
Anti-lockdown protesters clash with police during a demonstration against lockdown measures in Westminster, London, Britain, amid the coronavirus pandemic
Police officers gather as anti-lockdown protesters take part in a march, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain today
Police detain a man, during a coronavirus anti-lockdown protest on Westminster Bridge, in London today
Anti-lockdown protesters clash with police during a demonstration against lockdown measures in Westminster, London, Britain today
A protestor holds a flare, in Trafalgar Square, during a coronavirus anti-lockdown protest, in London today
The Metropolitan Police said 10 people had been arrested so far at the Stop the New Normal protest.
The force tweeted: ‘This protest is no longer exempt from the regulations and we are asking demonstrators to leave.
‘There is disruption on Westminster Bridge as officers continue to disperse crowds.’
The protests came as dramatic evidence emerged last night of a growing revolt against the restrictions, despite the imposition of a 17-day day full lockdown in Wales last week.
However, Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modelling led to the original lockdown in March, warned that Britain is facing for a winter of further restrictions and said relatives would ‘catch Covid and die’ they are allowed to mix on Christmas Day.
At the protests on Saturday, thousands of marchers marched through the capital’s most popular spots, including Trafalgar Square, outside Buckingham Palace, down Oxford Street, in Hyde Park and in Parliament Square.
Thousands of people marched through London on Saturday in protest against coronavirus lockdown measures
Protesters refused to wear masks and wielded signs demanding an end to restrictions on personal freedom imposed as part of efforts to control Covid-19
A uniformed man gives a salute during a Unite for Freedom march outside New Scotland Yard today in London, England
A man wearing a U.S. President Donald Trump mask gestures towards police officers as anti-lockdown protesters take part in a march, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain today
Other banners on display included one which read, ‘We all know you’re full of s**t’, a second which said, ‘my body my choice’, and a third with the message, ‘no to mandatory vaccines… refuse to comply with the new world order.’
None of the protesters seen in the photos were wearing face coverings intended to lessen the spread of coronavirus.
Outside Buckingham Palace, one man without a mask was seen shouting in the face of a police officer, who did have a face covering.
In Hyde Park, Mr Corbyn, the older brother of the former Labour leader, was pictured as he posed for a selfie with a fellow demonstrator.
Among the protesters was Jeremy Corbyn’s conspiracy theorist brother Piers, who once again joined demonstrators after appearing at court charged with flouting coronavirus rules
Outside Buckingham Palace, one man without a mask was seen shouting in the face of a police officer, who did have a face covering
The anti-lockdown demonstrators also marched down Northumberland Avenue, while large crowds also gathered outside Buckingham Palace, prompting police to be deployed
Another banner read, ‘stop killing the hospitality sector’ while a third read, ‘death tolls soar… not from Covid’
Another banner bore the message, ‘no to mandatory vaccines… refuse to comply with the new world order’
He was part of demonstrations less than 24 hours after joining scores of protesters outside Camden Town Tube station on Friday night.
His appearances came after he appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court charged with flouting coronavirus rules.
The court heard how the Metropolitan Police had ‘specifically targeted’ Corbyn at a Hyde Park demo on May 30.
The conspiracy theorist was later fined £10,000 for organising a huge anti-lockdown rally at Trafalgar Square in the UK capital, which was attended by more than 10,000 demonstrators.
Appearing outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, Mr Corbyn said: ‘Just to let you know that tonight, in a place as yet unrealised, but if you go on Twitter you’ll find out.
‘We’re going to have another drink against the curfew, where allegedly someone’s going to be blowing fire.’
Corbyn last appeared at a ‘drink against the curfew’ on October 17, when he shook hands with revellers, blasted the Government and claimed ‘there’s no such thing as a coronavirus’.
His lawyer told court on Thursday that Corbyn was singled out by authorities for breaking Covid-19 regulations during a lockdown protest because of his political beliefs.
Ben Cooper QC suggested it was unfair that the conspiracy theorist was arrested on May 30 while no arrests were made for breaches of lockdown restrictions at a Black Lives Matter protest taking place on the same day.
Protesters gathered outside the Houses of Parliament in Parliament Square, while others marched near Buckingham Palace
Some anti-lockdown protesters held signs about vaccines, with this woman’s sign reading ‘vaccine free zone’
Many people say they will refuse a coronavirus vaccine for fear of side effects and there is continuing fury over rule breakers such as the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Dominic Cummings
Representing the former Labour leader’s brother, the barrister said: ‘We see that these are incidents in which there was an awareness of the politics of protesters by police.
‘So when we adduce that the BLM protest on the same date resulted in no arrests, notwithstanding similar breaches had taken place, this demonstrates that there is a politicisation in the enforcement of the regulations by choosing to permit one set of demonstrators to protest while discriminating against different groups on the same day.That is an example of the police entering the political arena impermissibly.’
He added that some police evidence highlighted officers’ awareness of who Corbyn was, going against other evidence said to suggest approaching Corbyn was unplanned.
Referring to a log of police activities, named Silver Log, set to be used as evidence in the trial, he added: ‘The Superintendent in charge of Silver Log showed specific awareness of Mr Piers Corbyn – specifically described as Jeremy Corbyn’s brother in the entry on his activities – and therefore he was clearly very much on the radar of the officer responsible for the policing of these matters.
‘That is contrary to subsequent evidence of something which effectively suggests there was an element of surprise in confronting Mr Corbyn.’
Corbyn, of Southwark, denied two counts of participating in a gathering in public of more than two people in England during the coronavirus emergency period relating to protests on May 16 and 30.
At the protests on Saturday, thousands of marchers marched through the capital’s most popular spots, including Trafalgar Square, outside Buckingham Palace, down Oxford Street, in Hyde Park and in Parliament Square
One protester wielded a mock-up of a coronavirus testing swab as they mingled with other demonstrators in Trafalgar Square
On Friday, focus group findings suggested that the British public think the coronavirus rules do not work, that they will break the law if necessary to see loved ones and that they believe it is time to ‘get Britain back to normal’.
The Daily Mail listened in to one of the focus groups, typical of several that have been conducted recently, and it echoed the MPs’ views.
Carried out last Friday, and comprising a cross-section of society, both Tory and Labour, in London, Birmingham and Liverpool, it appears to show voters have lost faith in lockdowns and are no longer prepared to obey all the rules.
They also think the second wave of the virus will be less dangerous, are increasingly worried about the damage to jobs and the economy.
Other banners on display included one which read, ‘Quarantine is sick people being locked up. Tyranny is health people being lucked up’, accompanied with a picture of hands in handcuffs
Another sign read ‘When tyranny becomes law, resistance becomes duty’ (pictured)
Pictured: A man wearing an U.S. President Donald Trump and holding a beer mask elbow bumps a police officer as anti-lockdown protesters take part in a march on Parliament Square
Meanwhile many will refuse a coronavirus vaccine for fear of side effects and there is continuing fury over rule breakers such as the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Dominic Cummings.
James Johnson of JL Partners, who acted as moderator in the focus group, says the findings were the same as those in similar studies he had hosted.
He said the results had convinced him the tide of opinion was turning against lockdowns.
He said that ‘nuanced conversations’ that take place in focus groups, which involve only a handful of people, have ‘uncovered hidden truths’ about the pandemic and attitudes to the Government’s lockdown strategy.
None of the protesters were wearing face coverings and many defied social distancing rules as they gathered in the capital
Another banned bore the slogan, ‘Remember, Remember, 5th Nov[ember]’. Another demonstrator held a placard which bore the words ‘this is now tyranny’
The protesters were gathering after the imposition of tier 2 lockdown restrictions in the capital earlier this month
The protesters also marched down Victoria Embankment. One woman held a banner which read ‘Covid is a scam’
However, on Saturday, Professor Ferguson said that schools may have to be closed to older pupils if restrictions on households mixing fail to stem the rise of infections, and that it will be a ‘political judgement’ as to whether regulations are relaxed over the festive season.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘It risks some transmission and there will be consequences of that. Some people will die because of getting infected on that day.
‘But if it is only one or two days the impact is likely to be limited. So that is really a political judgment about the cost versus the benefits.’
It follows the prospects for a family Christmas descending into further confusion yesterday, as Downing Street insisted that relatives should be able to gather – but a minister warned it will not be ‘normal’.
Professor Ferguson added: ‘That (banning households mixing) should have a significant effect but as yet we have been unable to see it definitively.
‘If we go beyond that there is a limit to what we can do in terms of reducing contacts, short of starting to target, for instance, the older years in schools and sixth form colleges where we know older teenagers are able to transmit as adults.
‘Of course nobody wants to start moving to virtual education and closing schools even partially. The challenge may be that we are not able to get on top of the transmission otherwise.’
‘Let’s get back to normal!’: Thoughts and feelings of an exasperated public
Q: What do you think of Government’s coronavirus rules?
Alec, 61, consultant, London, Conservative
They are confusing, unenforceable and people won’t take any notice of them.
Brian, 68, retired, Liverpool, Conservative
One member of the focus group said that the government’s special adviser Dominic Cummings, pictured right, was ‘disgusting’ for having broken the rules
It’s killing more people with cancer. Coronavirus is 40th on the list (of causes of death). People with heart conditions, strokes are all dying. We are saving people with coronavirus but the rest are dying from diseases we can control.
Amira, (female) 30, school admin officer, London, Labour
They don’t (match) the statistics.
Paul, 48, property developer, Birmingham, Conservative
They are patronising and unjust.
Daniel, 24, student, London, Conservative
Confusing; people in government wouldn’t stick to them.
Q: Will rules work?
No. The virus has no limit on time, race, gender. [The authorities] think it will go away at ten o’clock when pubs shut, but it’s just spread among crowds getting wasted in the streets.
You can suppress it for a while but it’ll always break out again.
Steph, 38, charity worker, Liverpool, Labour
We (already) tried lockdown, we have to get back to normality, how is a second lockdown going to be any different?
Q: Will you follow new rules?
No. I’m very close to my family. I didn’t see them for six months in lockdown, I’m not doing it again.
We all followed the rules initially because we thought right, we’ve got to get rid of this virus. We’ve gone through all the pain of lockdown, now they want us to face another one. The consensus is they (the public) know it’s not going to work, it’s always going to break down.
Howard, 23, engineer, Liverpool
If you need to see your loved ones, see them. If you’re popping round for the sake of it – don’t.
Angela, 59, Birmingham, Labour
I wear a mask when I go out but I shall still see my family because my parents are elderly. I had a few months of not seeing them … and I’m not doing that again. Everything else I’m going to act normal because mentally I couldn’t go through it again.
I would break it (lockdown) to see my family – for my mental health.
Not really. If you need to see your loved ones, see them.
Q: What should MINISTERS do instead?
Get on with it and be sensible, don’t mix in big crowds. Get back to normal as much as we can.
There should be a lockdown with very harsh penalties… for a short time. Then we could remove the virus and live how we want to.
Q: Why has trust in the rules collapsed?
If the Queen won’t wear a mask, why should I bother?
Dominic Cummings’ (behaviour) was disgusting, Matt Hancock put his arm round fellow MPs in the Commons.
You have Cummings on a jolly, the woman (MP) who went from Scotland to London and back with the virus and isn’t being prosecuted. It’s a cop out. And they want to fine us!
The Mail said the average age of a Covid person dying is 82 years, the average life expectancy is 81 years, so who are we protecting? There’s good chance I would survive at 68.
Q: Would you have a Covid vaccine?
I don’t believe in vaccines, wouldn’t have one.
What happens if they bring one out that hasn’t been trialled, and in five years we’ve all developed side effects? We’ll all sue the Government because we were forced to have it.
I will take it because it will be a worldwide vaccine.