Activists protesting against tax avoidance by big businesses and individuals took over one of the UK's busiest stores today and forced it to close its doors to customers.

Retailer Topshop's flagship branch in London's Oxford Street was one of a series of stores where campaigners gathered in high streets across the UK.

Protests were also planned for towns and cities including Glasgow, Leeds, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.

The West End protest started at 11am when protestors joined together inside Topshop and started blowing whistles and chanting as the store experienced one of its busiest shopping days of the year.

Many campaigners were forcibly removed from the premises by private security guards and police.

Security guards also removed journalists from the store.

One female reporter was carried out by her arms and legs.

The activists, from UK Uncut, said they targeted the shop because it was part of Sir Philip Green's Arcadia retail group.

A spokeswoman for the group said: 'Tax avoidance is a big issue and we believe this is the alternative to the cuts the government are making.'

Similar action was being taken in 16 towns and cities as part of UK Uncut, with Arcadia - which includes Topshop and Dorothy Perkins - its main target, along with Boots, HSBC, Barclays and Vodafone.

The group also criticised the coalition government's decision to seek Sir Philip's advice on efficiency cuts in the Civil Service.
He produced a report in October, which described 'staggering' wastage in Whitehall spending.

In the face of cuts, the campaigners are also launching the Big Society Revenue and Customs - claiming its 'army of citizen volunteers' will make wealthy tax avoiders pay.

Today's protests follow action taken against Vodafone in October, when UK Uncut picketed entrances to its stores.

No-one from Arcadia was available for comment.