LONDON Four women chained themselves to the pulpit in St Paul's Cathedral on Sunday in support of the anti-corporate Occupy London movement, before cutting themselves free after being threatened with arrest, London police said.
The women from the Occupy London and Christianity Uncut movements said their four-hour protest was also a show of support for the Russian punk band Pussy Riot.
London Occupy, part of an international movement inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protest that began last September, has protested against bankers' bonuses and what they say is corporate greed.
A message on Occupy London's Twitter feed said that the protest was in solidarity with women from Pussy Riot. Three members of the band were convicted in August after staging a cathedral protest against President Vladimir Putin.
St Paul's said in a statement on Sunday that the women, all dressed in white, entered the cathedral during an evening prayer service and started shouting grievances against the cathedral as well as reading part of the Bible.
The women blamed St Paul's for its "collusion with the City of London Corporation", which they say led to the eviction of dozens of protesters in February.
"We disagree with the way in which some protesters are continuing to pursue the agenda of conflict with St Paul's, rather than consulting with us about how together we might better achieve the reforms which many people including Occupy are looking for," said the Dean of St Paul's, Dr David Ison.
A spokesman for City of London police said the women were threatened with arrest on the grounds of trespassing if they did not end their protest.
On Monday it will be a year since Occupy London first pitched some 150-200 tents outside the steps of the cathedral in the City of London in a protest that lasted four months.
Occupy London released a statement along with Christianity Uncut on Sunday calling for St Paul's to "stop sitting on the fence and join the fight against rising inequality in the UK and beyond".
"St Paul's Cathedral, you must stand up and be counted at this great trial of history. But you have denied us twice already," Occupy' s statement said.
Other Occupy protesters unfurled a large banner on the cathedral steps reading "throw the money changers out of the temple".
(Editing by Myra MacDonald)