Covid: At least 18 arrested at anti-lockdown protests in London

At least 18 people have been arrested at anti-lockdown protests in London.
Demonstrators gathered outside Buckingham Palace for a protest against coronavirus restrictions (Jonathan Brady/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

At least 18 people have been arrested in London following an anti-lockdown coronavirus protest.

Demonstrators made their way through the city with banners and placards, calling for “freedom” and an end to Covid-19 restrictions.

Police were deployed outside Buckingham Palace as crowds of protesters gathered on the steps of the Queen Victoria memorial opposite the gates, before making their way to Trafalgar Square.

Demonstrators called for an end to the “tyranny” of new rules amid the pandemic and voiced their opposition to vaccines.

At least two people were led away in handcuffs by officers at Trafalgar Square.

Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, also attended the protest.

A demonstrator shouts at a police liason officer near Buckingham Palace. Credit: PA

Arrests were for a variety of offences including breaching Coronavirus regulations, assaulting an emergency service worker, violent disorder and for being wanted.

There was some disruption on Westminster Bridge as officers tried to disperse crowds.

Earlier on Saturday, around 50 people gathered in Parliament Square for a protest organised by the Stop Trump Coalition.

A pantomime cow and a group of chlorinated chickens were among demonstrators who turned out to protest against a proposed trade deal between Britain and the US.

Protesters gathered in Trafalgar Square, London in a demonstration against lockdown restrictions Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

Organisers said any negotiated deal would be a “horror story” and a serious threat to the NHS, UK food standards and democracy.

Ahead of the weekend’s events police had urged people to comply with Covid-19 regulations, warning that they may be at risk of committing a criminal offence if they did not.

The force said they “strongly advise” people not to attend any large gatherings for the protection of themselves and others.

A protest in Parliament Square featured a demonstrator dressed as Donald Trump and a pantomime cow Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

Under current regulations, no-one can participate in a gathering of more than six people outdoors unless certain exemptions apply.

The Met said officers had also received information that unlicensed music events (UMEs) were being organised across the capital.

The force said these events remain illegal and officers will shut them down and take action against organisers.

Commander Ade Adelekan, leading today’s police operation, said: “Throughout the day, officers have been managing a number of complex protests at various locations across central London.

"One demonstration in particular attracted a large number of protesters and I became increasingly concerned that those in the crowd were not maintaining social distancing or adhering to the terms of their own risk assessment. “Organisers did not take reasonable steps to keep protesters safe which then voided their risk assessment. At this point, officers then took action to disperse crowds in the interests of public safety. “I am grateful that the vast majority of people listened to officers and quickly left the area. Frustratingly, a small minority became obstructive, deliberately ignoring officers’ instructions and blocking Westminster Bridge. “Although the majority of protests have concluded, our policing operation will continue into the night and I would urge Londoners to stick to the regulations, avoid gathering in large numbers and maintain social distancing.”