Clashes as far-right protesters march across UK

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TWO men charged with the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby will both appear before separate courts in London today.

Michael Adebolajo, 28, of Romford, Essex, was charged with the soldier’s murder on Saturday night.

He has also been charged with the attempted murder of two police officers and the possession of a firearm, and will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today.

Michael Adebowale, 22, was previously charged with murdering Drummer Rigby and is due to appear at the Old Bailey.

The latest charge came after rival protesters clashed outside the Houses of Parliament on Saturday and the English Defence League held events in towns and cities across the country, including in Sheffield and Leeds, as members sought to lay wreaths for Drummer Rigby.

Around 300 Unite Against Fascism (UAF) members gathered in Parliament Square on Saturday to block the British National Party (BNP) from marching to the Cenotaph.

Shouting spilled into violence and dozens of police were required to break up the disorder.

Scotland Yard said 58 people from the UAF protest were arrested under the Public Order Act after they refused to move to their pre-arranged protest pen.

In Sheffield, members of the public and protesters with the UAF group, numbering around 500, prevented a small number of EDL supporters from marching to the war memorial in Barkers’ Pool.

Singing, chanting and linking arms, they refused to allow members of the far-right group through to lay flowers, leading to a three-hour-long standoff, with mounted police separating the two groups.

Two people were arrested for breach of the peace, although South Yorkshire Police yesterday refused to confirm if they were UAF or EDL supporters.

Commander Chief Superintendent David Hartley said: “It was disappointing that reasoned attempts to allow both groups to achieve their objectives were initially resisted, but I’m pleased the event passed without significant issue or disorder.”

West Yorkshire Police yesterday refused to state how many arrests there had been at a smaller demonstration in Leeds. Up to 100 people massed in City Square, some carrying bouquets of flowers, while a small number wore Help for Heroes T-shirts.

After negotiations with police who refused to permit the large crowd walk to the war memorial, a group of around a dozen, carrying a flag and floral tributes, headed up Park Row chanting loudly.

Police officers had ringed the war memorial outside the Leeds Art Gallery, where anti-fascist protesters had gathered, and a line of officers separated the two groups amid angry confrontations.

Finally, EDL supporters held their flag aloft and lay their
tributes, before standing in silence which ended with applause from them and jeers from protesters.

The groups dispersed shortly after 3pm on orders from police.

Prime Minister David Cameron will today make a Commons statement about Drummer Rigby’s murder after the first meeting of an anti-terrorism task force set up as a result of the Woolwich attack.

The Cabinet level group, which will also bring in intelligence and police chiefs, will focus on radical preachers who target potential recruits in jails, schools, colleges and mosques.

Yesterday, former premier Tony Blair warned there was a problem “within Islam” and described the ideology behind the murder of soldier Lee Rigby as “profound and dangerous”.

In a newspaper column, Mr Blair wrote: “There is not a problem with Muslims in general. Most in Britain will be horrified at Lee Rigby’s murder.

“But there is a problem within Islam – from the adherents of an ideology that is a strain within Islam. And we have to put it on the table and be honest about it.”