Colby says police told him protest inside HSBC in Ely against tax avoidance could carry on “as long as I cleaned up after me”

PUBLISHED: 13:29 23 March 2015 | UPDATED: 13:29 23 March 2015

Colby Smith protest

Colby Smith protest


Colby Smith took a “one-man direct action protest” inside HSBC in Ely on Saturday to highlight the campaign against tax avoidance.

The painter and decorator from Sutton answered the call to action by national activist group UK Uncut with his two hour sit-in at the Ely bank.

Mr Smith, 29, plastered the walls and windows of the building with homemade posters protesting about government cuts and austerity measures and calling on businesses like HSBC, Google and Amazon to pay the proper amount of tax.

Police were called by bank staff but Mr Smith claimed officers were ‘supportive’ and allowed him to remain inside the bank’s window after being re-assured his was a peaceful protest.

He wrote on Twitter during the protest: “The police officer who talked to me (very nice guy by the way) told me he totally understood and that his pay is frozen for five years.

“All went well. Police said I could carry on as long as I cleaned up after me. Branch manager was not happy.”

Mr Smith, who is considering standing as a Green candidate for Sutton at the upcoming local elections, said passers-by were very supportive giving him the thumbs-up sign.

He was joined briefly by Clive Semmens, the Green Party’s would-be MP for South East Cambs, who broke off from handing out leaflets on the Market Place to stand beside Mr Smith.

Mr Smith’s protest was part of a nationwide campaign by activists who descended on several branches of HSBC across the country protesting against tax avoidance and cuts in the public sector.

Colby posted photos of his protest on Twitter as it unfolded and added “sorry mister branch manager”.

He is considering standing as a Green candidate in the forthcoming local elections in Sutton.

Colby Smith took his “one-man direct action protest” inside HSBC in Ely on Saturday to highlight his campaign against tax avoidance.

See the video of Mr Smith’s protest here:

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