EDL says Portsmouth march will be peaceful

FLASH-POINT EDL protesters outside the Jami Mosque in Victoria Road North, Southsea, in November 2010.     ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (103684-9)
FLASH-POINT EDL protesters outside the Jami Mosque in Victoria Road North, Southsea, in November 2010. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (103684-9)

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THE English Defence League has promised its planned march on July 16 will pass off peacefully.

Its representative in the city, Paul Ness, has also dismissed claims the group has racist motives.

Mr Ness said: ‘We’re not a racist group. We’re realists. We have no problem with people coming here to live, but we think they should abide by our laws.

‘It’s an hour and a half and if we’re left alone, it will be a peaceful march and we can get back to our families.’

The group will march down Edinburgh Road, Queen Street and Ordnance Row, before heading back towards the city centre on Park Road. Police say they have told the EDL to start and finish at Victoria Park.

Mr Ness said: ‘We are marching in Portsmouth because it’s a city with a strong military tradition. We don’t want any violence or trouble. That’s not what we’re doing this for.’

Hampshire police’s Portsmouth area commander, Superintendent Norman Mellors, said: ‘The EDL have been open in their planning, supplied their intentions in writing, and have modified their plans in accordance with our requests. We have no provenanced evidence to suggest that the EDL has any intent to provoke serious disorder.

‘There are legal responsibilities for the council and the police to facilitate lawful and safe protest.’