Ken Livingstone support for peaceful Fortnum and Mason protesters during Redbridge visit

Labour candidate for London Mayor Ken Livingstone has voiced his sympathy for the protest group behind the Fortnum and Mason occupation on Saturday but has slammed violent anarchists.

Members of UK Uncut believe direct action, such as occupying shops, will highlight its demands that all companies should be made to pay tax in the UK.

But its event in central London, itself a breakaway protest from the main peaceful march organised by the Trades Union Congress, was overshadowed by black clad, masked anarchists who smashed windows and threw projectiles at shop windows and police.

Mr Livingstone said the two groups were different: “UK Uncut isn’t violent. I understand when a big pile of chocolate fell down they cleared it up. Then there’s the anarchists. They’re part of a European network. They think out of anarchy can come some sort of new order.

“It’s actually the same situation we had in 2001. We knew that anarchist groups were in that May Day march to highjack it. They were going to congregate in Oxford Circus and rampage.

“That was the first time we used kettling and we got it right.”

Speaking on a visit to the Ilford Recorder during a tour of Redbridge, Mr Livingstone, who was London Mayor between 2000 and 2008, said an estimated �40billion could be collected from businesses who legally avoid paying tax in the UK – half of the �80billion which is being cut from budgets to fill the hole in the economy.

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“Violence can never be OK because it allows the right wing to divert attention from the real issues.”

He added: “We should be getting big businesses to pay.

“You and I can’t say I haven’t paid my tax for two years – we’d go to prison.”

He also spoke about issues close to the hearts of Redbridge residents including travel costs, Crossrail, housing and King George Hospital.

The man who hopes to be London Mayor once again after next year’s election had spent the afternoon visiting Redbridge, meeting residents, councillors and police in Wanstead, Barkingside, Ilford and Gants Hill.

Speaking of Saturday’s main march, he said: “It was the slowest march that I’ve ever been on in my life. There was something between 3,000 and 5,000 people – it was amazing and really good humoured.”

Mr Livingstone was also asked a question about kettling at a Tell Ken event held last night at Fullwell Cross Library, High Street, Barkingside.

He said kettling areas had been made too big in recent years and should be more targeted on troublemakers.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said 201 people were arrested on Saturday; 145 in connection with the Fortnum and Mason action. So far 147 have been charged.