Protesters welcome change of policy from St Paul's on Occupy camp

By staff writers
2 Nov 2011

Occupy LSX, camped outside St Paul's, says it is delighted that two potential legal cases to evict protesters appear to have been suspended - and that the policy of the Cathedral seems to have changed significantly.

On 1 November 2011, delegates from Occupy London Stock Exchange met with the Chapter of St Paul’s and the Bishop of London.

They declared afterwards: "It was a positive meeting, during which they informed us of their intention not to pursue legal action, rather their desire to work together in the call for social justice."

Both parties have agreed to engage in direct and constructive dialogue, which was previously not possible due to the threat of legal processes angled towards forcible eviction.

A statement from the Cathedral said: "The resignation of the Dean, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, has given the opportunity to reassess the situation... St Paul’s intends to engage directly and constructively with both the protesters and the moral and ethical issues they wish to address, without the threat of forcible eviction hanging over both the camp and the church."

But in a carefully crafted comment which may indicate a political move to deflect legal recourse elsewhere without abandoning it, the statment added: "It is being widely reported that the Corporation of London plans to ask protesters to leave imminently. The Chapter of course recognises the Corporation’s right to take such action on Corporation land."

In its statement, OLSX declared: "Occupy London will be meeting with [the Cathedral authorities] again soon to discuss political, ecumenical and logistical issues."

Other issues raised at the meeting with the Chapter and Bishop were upcoming special events, at which both the Cathedral and occupiers might have the opportunity to "work together to ensure coordination", say the protesters - whose camp exists to develop alternatives to corporate greed and economic injustice.

The events mentioned include Remembrance Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas services, a Requiem this week, as well as the general day-to-day running of the Cathedral and the camp, says.

"Occupy London is still awaiting firm confirmation of the Corporation of London’s plans. It is saying it is has temporarily ‘paused’ legal action," said OLSX.

Mary Singer, a volunteer for Occupy London, commented: “We are all very happy to see that the threat of court proceedings against the camp is being reviewed by the City. It is important that our right to protest is respected. As the church has agreed, the occupation is here to fight for a more just, democratic society.”

Meanwhile, The Anglican Bishop of London has invited investment banker, Ken Costa, formerly Chair of UBS Europe and Chair of Lazard International, to spearhead an initiative "reconnecting the financial with the ethical". Mr Costa will be supported by a number of City, Church and public figures, including Dr Giles Fraser, who although no longer a member of Chapter at St Paul's, "will help ensure that the diverse voices of the protest are involved in this."

Bishop Richard Chartres, said: "The alarm bells are ringing all over the world. St Paul’s has now heard that call. Today’s decision means that the doors are most emphatically open to engage with matters concerning not only those encamped around the Cathedral but millions of others in this country and around the globe. I am delighted that Ken Costa has agreed to spearhead this new initiative which has the opportunity to make a profound difference.”

Michael Colclough, Canon Pastor of St Paul’s Cathedral and a member of Chapter, added: "This has been an enormously difficult time for the Cathedral but the Chapter is unanimous in its desire to engage constructively with the protest and the serious issues that have been raised, without the threat of legal action hanging over us. Legal concerns have been at the forefront in recent weeks but now is the time for the moral, the spiritual and the theological to come to the fore.”

[Ekk/3]

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