Dozens arrested as lockdown protesters clash with police

PA

Police have arrested more than 60 people amid anti-lockdown protests in central London.

Hundreds of demonstrators including a man dressed as Santa Claus marched through Westminster chanting "shame on you" and "freedom", causing traffic disruption on Saturday afternoon.

The Metropolitan Police said officers had made more than 60 arrests by 3pm.

The force said: "These were for a number of different offences, including breaching coronavirus restrictions.

"We expect this number to rise. We continue to urge people to go home."

Activists marched from Hyde Park to Oxford Circus and Regent Street, clashing with helmeted police who arrived in several vans and ran to respond to the chaos.

Protesters, including some dressed as Christmas elves, brandished signs reading "All I want for Christmas is my freedom back", "Ditch the face masks" and "Stop controlling us".

Several people were handcuffed by officers, while police action was met with booing as demonstrators, many not wearing face masks, ignored requests to go home.

Protest is not a permitted exemption to the prohibition on gatherings under current coronavirus regulations in England and those who attend risk enforcement action by officers, the Metropolitan Police had warned ahead of the weekend.

The grassroots group Save Our Rights UK, which says it is working for democracy, appeared to be leading the protest, called Unite For Freedom – Time For Action.

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