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Route of annual cycling protest was diverted yesterday due to rally backing jailed English Defence League founder

A photo of participants in yesterday’s London leg of the World Naked Bike Ride passing a placard-carrying man taking part in a Free Tommy Robinson protest has been shared more than 1,000 times on Twitter.

The route of the annual protest ride had been changed to take it away from areas including Whitehall due to the demonstration in support of English Defence League founder Robinson, jailed earlier this week for contempt of court.

Twitter user Christian Calgie, a former Conservative Parliamentary aide, tweeted yesterday afternoon that he had passed by the ‘Free Tommy’ demonstration only to run into the World Naked Bike Ride.

Shortly afterwards, he posted a photo showing a man carrying a placard in support of Robinson being passed on Westminster Bridge by people taking part in the World Naked Bike ride, saying: “They have merged. I am in Hell.”

One person commenting on that tweet made the observation: “When Free Tommy meets Free Willy.”

Held annually in cities around the globe, the World Naked Bike Ride seeks to highlight the fragility of the human body as well as protesting against dependency on fossil fuels and the dominance of car culture.

Yesterday, five feeder rides from various locations around the capital converged on Westminster Bridge for the start of the ride.

Meanwhile, thousands of Robinson’s supporters had gathered on Whitehall, with their protest later turning violent with missiles thrown at police and an open-top sightseeing bus hi-jacked, with police making several arrests.

In a post on Facebook, organisers of the World Naked Bike Ride said: “Massive thanks to the riders and marshals who made yesterday's ride the biggest and best ever. It was a great day – good people and good weather, albeit with some snags - but that's normal.

“Some of you might be disappointed that we missed out some of your favourite landmarks and were a bit late. There were a lot of blockages and danger areas as a result of several conflicting and sometimes violent demonstrations in Central London. We had info from the police, TfL and our own people watching CCTV and actually at potential trouble spots. All the start groups made diversions.

“For the final leg, one of our stewards reported in the violence in Trafalgar Square. You may have heard five police officers were injured, a tourist bus was hijacked and smoke bombs were thrown.

“We took you on a planned and tested diversion route, which is why you didn't get to sing Happy Birthday to the Queen at Buckingham Palace.”

They added: “We hope you still enjoyed the day and we're sorry we had to make those diversions to keep you safe. Thank you so much for making it a success!”

Two years ago in Bristol, the city’s leg of the World Naked Bike Ride to be re-routed away from the city’s Queen Square due to an English Defence League demonstration there, as well as a counter-protest from anti-fascist campaigners.

> Bristol World Naked Bike gives neo-Nazis a wide berth

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.