Occupy London: St. Paul’s More Concerned About Tourists’ Wallets then Protesters in Need?
Occupy protesters will see this as a small victory Alastair Stevenson

The Occupy protesters, that were mocked in the media for abandoning the site, have hit back saying the publications who carried the thermal images of empty tents are "confused."

Spokesman for the Occupy protest, Spyro Van Leemnen, said: "There are more than a thousand people who come here everyday and at least half the people stay overnight."

Van Leeman added: "We completely reject the claim that we are wasting taxpayers' money by being monitored here." But conceded: "We will be looking to count the number of people coming in and out of the camp from now on"

The comment comes after media carrying thermal images of empty tents that revealed as many as "nine out of ten protesters" were leaving every night to go home to their houses, to sleep in their beds, cook food and get a hot shower before returning to the site the following morning.

Despite displaying determined signs like: "All day, all week, we'll sleep on London's freezing streets," one protester who leaves the site on a daily basis said: "It's getting really cold at night. People are anxious to go home."

Matthew Richardson, an elected councillor of the adjacent ward to St Paul's Cathedral said: "Having seen photos in The Times this morning, it clearly shows that people are leaving the site. I'm not saying people don't have to protest, but there needs to be a balance between having the camp site here and people protesting."

St Paul's issue

St Paul's Cathedral has been closed off to the public since Friday - the first time it has done so since the Second World War citing "health and safety" reasons as the cause.

Richardson added: "While the campsite is here, the cathedral will remained closed which is simply wrong."

Van Leeman said, however, "The health and safety people haven't said anything about us being in the wrong. When they said we had to move some tents to avoid a fire hazard, we did, and now we're doing something else wrong, but what is it?"

There have also been reports of local business being badly affected and losing up to 45 per cent trade.

"This was never our intention," says Van Leeman. "We will certainly try make sure that this does not happen."

The City of London Police, however, refused to speculate on the future "it was using a range of techniques" to determine if people were leaving the site.