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Occupy London protesters have been evicted from outside St Paul’s Cathedral, bringing their camp to an end after more than four months.

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Police and bailiffs moved in early this morning, five days after Occupy London was refused permission by the Court of Appeal to challenge orders evicting protesters.

City of London Police said 20 people had so far been arrested in the “largely peaceful” operation.

In a statement, City of London Corporation said: “We regret that it has come to this but the High Court judgment speaks for itself and the Court of Appeal has confirmed that judgment.

“High Court enforcement officers employed by the City of London Corporation are undertaking the removal with the police present to ensure public safety and maintain order. We would ask protesters to move on peaceably.”

Although some campers remained on site when police arrived, many began dismantling the equipment before bailiffs moved in.

Gary Sherborne, 50, said: “We haven’t got any choice and I’d rather protect the tent for another day without it being destroyed by the bailiffs.”

Meanwhile, a group of protesters remained defiant, waving flags and banging tambourines on top of a makeshift wooden structure facing the cathedral.

However, this platform was eventually dismantled by bailiffs after police in riot gear surrounded it. Campaigners were also cleared from the steps of the cathedral.

An Occupy London spokesman said its School of Ideas in a disused school building in Islington, north London, had also been evicted.

Supporter Kai Wargalla, a 27-year-old student from Germany who has been camping at St Paul’s since the occupation began on October 15, said: “It’s really sad what’s happening today but I think we can be proud of what we’ve achieved. Our community is being attacked here, but we’re going to reconvene and come back stronger.”

She said many of the campers from St Paul’s planned to go to one of the group’s other sites in Finsbury Square instead, and extra tents would be put up following the unexpected eviction from the School of Ideas.

Ms Wargalla was one of a number of trained “legal observers” who were monitoring the eviction process on behalf of the campaigners and reminding them of their rights.

Commenting on today’s eviction, Ms Wargalla said: “We hadn’t expected to be evicted from the cathedral steps because previously the church has said it would give us sanctuary when there’s a violent eviction.

“There was also some really unnecessary tension and stress caused by the police when they told us we had five minutes to take our things from the camp.”

She added: “It wasn’t that violent today, but the violence we did see came from the police and the bailiffs.”

The protest against corporate greed and social inequality started in October.

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