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Courts Anarchist hails ‘victory for free speech’ in Qatar fight

Sam Tobin reports from the High Court

CLASS WAR activist Ian Bone hailed a “victory for free speech” today after the owners of London’s Shard skyscraper dropped an attempt to block a protest against empty luxury flats.

Mr Bone, 70, posted on Facebook last week announcing “weekly actions” outside the Shard, which is ultimately owned by the Qatari royal family.

He added that “the aim is to occupy the empty apartments” and to “start a mass squatting movement.”

All 10 of the apartments on the Shard’s top floor, worth as much as £50 million each, remain unsold five years after the building was opened.

Teighmore Ltd, which owns the leasehold on the Shard, and LBQ Fielden Limited, the owner of proposed development Shard Place, initially applied for an injunction to stop Mr Bone and “persons unknown” from protesting.

David Forsdick QC, for the companies, said Mr Bone’s statements had “generated some wider interest” which meant there was a “clear risk of trespass” by others.

But Mr Forsdick told the court that the two companies had incorrectly drawn the boundaries of the land and only wanted to prevent occupation of the flats.

He added: “This is not about a right to protest … this simply stops him coming on to our land [and] doing stuff he’s not supposed to do.”

Ian Brownhill, for Mr Bone, said his client’s “principle concern [is] lawfully exercising his right to protest.”

Mr Bone himself insisted that he would not seek to enter the property or “incite in any way” others to do so, an assurance that the court accepted.

Leigh-Ann Mulcahy QC, sitting as a High Court judge, said she would grant an injunction in relation to persons unknown given the “risk of trespass.”

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Bone said: “This is a great victory for free speech and class politics.”

He then quoted from an intelligence report on Class War, which said the group “vocally supports, and engages in, civil disobedience, violence and anarchy as acceptable methods of pursuing their objectives.”

Meanwhile, a campaigner lost a High Court bid today to block a widely opposed £2 billion housing scheme in north London.

Gordon Peters challenged the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), a private-public partnership to develop housing that would involve a 50-50 split between the council and private developer Lendlease, but Mr Justice Ouseley dismissed his case entirely.

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