Million Mask March troublemakers 'knew what they were doing', says Met chief

Million Mask March: Footage of Violence and Scuffles Between Police and Protesters

Police chiefs have condemned the violence at yesterday's Million Mask March where four police officers and six horses were injured.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, branded those that had thrown fireworks and missiles at officers and their horses "despicable".

The Commissioner said he believed protesters had deliberately attacked the animals during the demonstration in central London, organised by Anonymous to hit back at austerity measures and perceived inequality brought about by the Government.

"The horses were big enough to see, they knew what they were doing," Sir Bernard said.

"They knew it was a possibility these fireworks would frighten the animals, so I think it's pretty despicable behaviour.

"They have no right to hurt other people, they have no right to hurt animals, and they have no right to frighten the members of public that are wandering around.

"Protest by all means but don't hurt other people in the process."

Sir Bernard made the comments in the stables at Great Scotland Yard, while petting one of the injured horses.

The anti-capitalist protest started peacefully but as the night went on some marchers splintered into groups that deviated from the planned route and headed down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace.

It was there that officers and their horses had missiles and fireworks thrown at them, causing the 16.2-hands-high Embassy - one of the force's oldest horses - to bolt.

The officer riding was thrown from his horse and taken to hospital with a broken wrist.

Sir Bernard said: "He slipped, and in slipping obviously trapped the rider.

"And it could have turned out far worse - if you get a horse on top of you, you could die."

The officer was now recovering at home, he said.

More than 1,000 people are estimated to have attended the march, and Sir Bernard said more than 50 arrests were made with more expected as officers review footage.

"I suspect there will be tens more who will be getting a knock on the door," he added.

The clashes largely took place in the Mall, Great George Street, Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square.

He added that some protesters had asked others to stop targeting the animals, but denied that the attacks were down to the actions of a small group, saying he believed the majority of marchers "intended on some kind of violent process".

"I'm not saying they were all violent but they wanted to have an effect, they weren't prepared to stick to the plan," he said.

He said the police "couldn't have done more" to stop violence escalating. Around 1,500 officers were deployed during the march, and a laser light was projected onto the side of the National Gallery informing protesters of what they were and were not allowed to do.

Pc Claire Rees said her horse Quixote, who suffered injuries to his front legs in the Mall when a firework landed underneath him, had been "very brave".

She said: "I just think it is a very cowardly thing to do. Horses should never be targeted. It was very intimidating.

"When it's a horse and fireworks are thrown, it is a very dangerous situation. Just one of our officers got injured. It could have been a lot worse, but the horses were just so amazing last night."

She added that some protesters had been concerned for the horses' safety.

Quixote was also injured a few weeks ago when he was attacked by a dog in Greenwich Park.