Protesters occupying ‘unsafe’ office in City

OCCUPY London protesters have taken over an eight-storey office building in the City despite warnings it is unsafe.

The economic justice campaigners entered Roman House in the Barbican at about 3.30am yesterday, the fifth occupation they have carried out to date.

They vowed to remain at the abandoned block until the City of London Corporation publishes full details of its City cash accounts.

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But Berkeley Homes, which owns the building, described the occupation as “potentially dangerous”.

A spokesman said: “We urge the protesters to vacate this building site as quickly as possible as we are very concerned that they are putting both themselves and members of the public in real danger.

“It is not safe for public use, there are holes in the floors and we are in the early stages of asbestos removal. We hope the protesters will therefore voluntarily leave the building shortly, given that it has no link whatsoever to their objectives. In the meantime we are taking legal advice, particularly given the safety concerns, to ensure this potentially dangerous occupation ends quickly.”

Announcing its latest occupation, the campaign group said the building had previously housed financial services companies.

But Berkeley Homes said the previous occupant was a firm of architects.

They also pointed out that it was not owned by the City of London and never had been.

The protesters are calling for the Corporation to “become a more transparent public body like every other public body in the country”.

Protester Bryn Phillips, 28, said: “The Corporation has undermined our democracy through the power of its lobbyists and must submit to public scrutiny.”

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City of London Police arrived at Roman House minutes after the protesters entered the building, but no arrests were made, Phillips said.

About 50 protesters took over the building and a number of local residents came out to show their support throughout the day, the group said.

Meanwhile, representatives of Essential Edinburgh, which manages St Andrew Square, will go to court on Wednesday in a bid to remove the Occupy Edinburgh protesters who set up camp on the city centre square three months ago.

Essential Edinburgh is pursuing legal action after talks with the protest organisers aimed at getting them to leave voluntarily failed.