The squatters who took over the former pub The Bohemia pub in Finchley have been evicted after police and bailiffs smashed through barricades in dramatic scenes this afternoon.
At just after 5pm around 20 High Court bailiffs joined by police, including canine units, forced their way through the rear entrance of the pub in North Finchley High Road before the occupiers, who entered the building in September, agreed to leave quietly.
The squatters had turned the abandoned building into a community hub following its sudden closure in August. [Read More]
Our three friends who were accused of the “offence” of occupying an unused allegedly residential building have all now been cleared of any “crime.” The three were arrested in Brighton last year, just two days after the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO 2012) had become law. When they came to trial, two had charges dropped, the other one was convicted purely on the word of a copper. On appeal, this conviction was quashed on October 31, over a year later. So finally we can celebrate!
Now at last we can talk about the case and what it means for squatting. Basically, the news is good. Very good in fact. This new law is unenforceable, just as groups such as Squatters Action for Secure Housing (SQUASH) and the Squatters Network of Brighton and Hove always maintained.
Resistance to s.144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012 that outlaws squatting in residential buildings is growing. Ultimately, the law may prove unworkable and unenforceable.
Ten days ago, squatters occupied a residential council property in Southwark in protest at the sell-off of council houses and the criminalisation of squatting under s.144. Last week, a Brighton squatter was acquitted on appeal as the prosecution failed to prove he was living at the property. His two co-defendants had previously been acquitted on the same charge.
Yesterday, another case collapsed when the Crown Prosecution Service presented no evidence at Mold Crown Court against Tristan Dixon who was appealing his conviction under s.144.
Nestled in a quiet street between the river and Borough Market, surrounded by expensive butchers, wine bars and offices for start-up PR companies and various institutional offshoots of the Globe Theatre sits 21-23 Park Street. The nearly 200 year old building originally housed managers at the nearby Anchor Brewery, but was sold to Southwark Council who used it as part of their housing stock.
The building made headlines last week as news that the council was auctioning off the property with a reserve of £2.25 million earned it the title of “the most expensive council house in Britain”. On Monday, just as news that the property had been sold for £2.96 million began circulating, it also became clear that the building had been occupied by local residents, some of whom are part of a new mutual support group called Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth, in an attempt to prevent the sale of yet more public housing. Having attempted to identify a number of possible offences, it became clear that police had no legal recourse to arrest the occupants, and they left. [Read More]
We won the appeal!!
A squatter convicted under s144 had the conviction unanimously overturned for lack of ANY evidence. Our barrister was ninja and the judge laid down some stringent guidelines on what the police must do to establish proof that someone lives in a squat. Unfortunately he refused to define what constitutes residential…
A deeper analysis will follow, for now we can only say if you are accused of squatting a residential building, don’t talk to police at all (no comment interview) and plead not guilty. This law is fucked and unenforceable.
Also, the #mikeweatherleyisacoward case continues so our @housingwar twitter will continue with court updates. Continue reading for tweets from court today:
So tomorrow (Thursday 31 October) the appeal against the s144 conviction continues in Hove Crown Court (today went quite well, we will be posting a full report after the trail concludes) AND also the two day trial of a man accused of calling Member of Parliament Mike Weatherley a coward begins at Brighton magistrates court (yes it does really).
The appeal of the third squatban resister is coming up in Brighton!
In a week and a half, on the 30th and 31st of October, our friend Dirk will finally have his appeal against his conviction for Squatting a Residental building. We call on all squatters to come to this appeal and support Dirk! Fuck S144!
Down with Weatherley, up the squatters!