Protest occupiers get off S144 charges

p10200532 people charged under Section 144 LASPO had the case thrown out by District Judge Williams at Highbury Magistrates Court on Tuesday 26th August.

Although the main defence of the occupiers was going to be that they were occupying the building in protests against its sell-off by Camden Council, had a rota for staying there and had other addresses where they were living (plus other arguments), what got the case thrown out was that the property had been sold the day before and so there was no allegation of trespass.

So, let’s keep fighting.

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Getting blood out of a stone

Courts are difficult places to get information out of, and once things start going wrong they can put you in a loop that you’ll never find a way out from. Most County Courts no longer have an office that you can go to with enquiries, without making an appointment, which you can’t make because the office isn’t open ……

On the 27th March 2014 an Interim Possession Order was made by someone at Bow County Court. The first the occupiers knew of this was on the 28th when someone turned up with the front page of the order, and a photo to show that a copy had been posted on the door on the previous day. Maybe, but it hadn’t been left there, and the original hearing papers had not been served.

The order was made to Magic Circle Law Firm Ltd. They are not the registered owners, and having not seen any of their statements it is not known what right they claimed to the property.

The occupiers were a collection of diverse groups, thrown together by today’s difficult conditions, and different people ran off in different directions doing different things and sometimes colliding.

We can’t be sure whether the notice we wrote explaining the invalidity of the IPO was shown to the police, or even if the police tried to enforce the IPO before the occupiers moved out. We also don’t know if the draft defence we wrote for the full possession order hearing was used. The Order made states “The Claim is dismissed”, although an email from the Court says possession was granted. The email also said that one of the occupiers “subsequently issued an application to re-enter the property which was dismissed also, by District Judge Vokes” and that a further application was made on D J Vokes’ advice, which had been given a new claim number, to which we have still to be told of any outcome.

On the 30th April ASS emailed the court asking for copies of the orders and the statement in support of the IPO application, quoting Civil Procedure Rules allowing this for people not party to the case, and stating that there appeared to have been a criminal offence involved.

On the 17th May an email came back stating that a District Judge had been asked and said that we had to identify the documents required (we had) and file either an application or a notice of request with the relevant fee. The DJ agreed that the rules we had referred to (CPR 5.4C) applied.

In the absence of an office to go to talk to, or the court having responded to our query about how much the fees would be, we eventually wrote, asking to be invoiced. The reply came back that “The District Judge has directed” that CPR 5.4 does not apply.

This is similar to a problem we had with a dodgy IPO from Willesden County Court a few years ago, where we just go so worn down by complaints, being told “no, you can’t complain, it was the judge’s decision so you have to appeal” etc, that we ground to a halt.

So, does anyone out there have the energy to help us keep battling away at this, or know a way through this bureaucratic mess?

Josef K

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our fan mail




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March for Decent Housing

5th July from noon
Central Park, East Ham E6


Thousands of people are facing the threat of repossession & eviction, struggling with the bedroom tax, council tax & benefit cap. Families are battling soaring private rents, rogue landlords, & letting agents, discriminating racially & charging huge fees, poorly regulated, short term & insecure tenancies.

We must STAND TOGETHER & FIGHT for our right to housing security.
Focus On the Future FOF

Central Park, East Ham, London, E6. 12pm.

Directions:- Park entrance opposite White Horse Pub. Buses: 58 101 104 115 474
Tube: East Ham Stn turn left at exit, walking down high st, pass Town Hall, park is on the right.

Organised by Focus E15 Mothers

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Free Workshop Day


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Lambeth renters’ solidarity

Lambeth Renters, an organisation of private renters, has refused a meeting with MP Chuka Umunna because of his call for the further criminalisation of squatting.

Stop criminalising squatting!
Requisition all empties!

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we hear about all sorts of things happening, which need to be challenged

• dodgy evictions by bailiffs without notice or court papers
• attempted forced entry by owners or their workers
• police not following up when crimes have been committed against us

If we don’t challenge these things they’ll continue to get away with it.

We need details, as soon as possible, in writing (with any other evidence) so we can make complaints and challenges, as well help us advise others.

So, please, help us to help you, and everyone else.

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HALDANE SOCIETY OF SOCIALIST LAWYERS invites you to attend our Human Rights lectures 2014

WEDNESDAY 15 JANUARY 2014: Government’s attack on squatters. Speakers
David Watkinson, barristers, and Advisory Service for Squatters.

THURSDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2014: UK human rights violation in Afghanistan and
Iraq – the present picture. Speaker: Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers.

All lectures at 6.30pm at the University of Law, 14 Store Street, London

Admission free. We regret that CPD points are not available. Further

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Section 144 – some good news at last.

The tide seems to be turning against Section 144, or at least against some aspects (which we would have said weren’t covered by S144 anyway)

Firstly, one of the few convictions has been overturned. Dirk was nicked on a roof in Brighton just after the new law came in, with two others. The other two were found not guilty of the crime of living in a residential property, but Dirk was found guilty on the basis of police claims that he had said something about living there. On appeal the conviction was overturned as the police claims were ruled inadmissible.
More details from the wonderful SchNews at!/
“No comment” is always the best response if you don’t want to be misquoted.

And secondly we’ve seen protestors in Southwark successfully argue police out of using S144, and other spurious charges to try to remove them. 21/23 Park Street was occupied in protest at its sell-off at auction by the council, further reducing the amount of much needed social housing in the area. The council claimed they needed to sell the property to pay for new housing, but since 2010 they have sold or demolished 857 homes while building 26.
This event has covered by national and local press, as well as SchNews of course.

ASS have notices for responding to all sorts of threatened misuses of S144, as well as the standard Legal Warnings for non-residential properties on the website. If you think you might need one give us a call and we’ll tailor-make one to your needs.

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1st birthday of S144

Dear Persons Unknown:

You are cordially
invited to attend the
1st birthday of S144
street party near you

September 1st, 2013

Wish list:
-Banner Drops
-Other fun things

On the 1st of September squatting residential properties will
have been illegal for 1 year.
In this year, people were kicked out of their homes, forced to
pay fines, went to prison, and even died because of this law.
Against a backdrop of rising homelessness, unemployment
and attacks on housing benefit, the rich pass laws in their own
interest. The ruling class want to restrict our housing options
still further – to push us out of our homes and out of our cities.
Get together with your squatmates and other precariously
housed people to prepare the coming birthday celebrations.
Come together, empower each other, and organise to fight
back against attacks on all our housing.
We can fight by resisting evictions, refusing increased rents
and creating new spaces and opportunities for ourselves by
taking possession of unused property. Let’s mark this
anniversary by reminding ourselves and others that we are
still here and these options will continue to exist law or no
These struggles are at their most basic the fight for shelter.
We will not “demand our rights” or beg for the minimum, but
take what we need.
Fill the empties not the prisons!
Repeal section 144!
What present will you give?

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