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Hove MP in dispute with 160 lawyers over squatting laws

Hove MP Mike Weatherley‘s campaign against squatters has led to him engaging in a clash with dozens of lawyers.

The Conservative MP has led a campaign against squatting since winning election in May 2010 and has highlighted the problems faced by home owners in his constituency that have been targeted by squatters.

The focus of Mr Weatherley’s campaign has been to call for all forms of squatting to be criminalised, but this has led to a response from 160 lawyers in a letter to The Guardian, which cited the MPs campaigning as having delivered “misleading statements” that have “furthered the myths being peddled around squatting”.

The lawyers state it is legally incorrect to say that ‘squatters who refuse to leave someone’s home are not committing a criminal offence and that a change in the law is needed to rectify this situation’.

However, Mr Weatherley has written back with venom, saying: “The self-proclaimed experts who signed the letter, sheep-like, have a huge vested interest when it comes to fees after all.”

In response to the lawyers highlighting ‘police can arrest any trespasser who refuses to leave’ and ‘home owners can use reasonable force to remove the trespassers’, Mr Weatherley said: “These lawyers also have a huge gap in their practical knowledge if they think an average person is physically equipped to take on a gang of squatters.”

In his letter, he added: “The police will not assist with an eviction in most cases without the backing of a magistrate’s order. This takes sometimes a few hours, sometimes it’s the next day. In the meantime, the unlawful occupiers will have been damaging your home, using your electricity, drinking your wine and sleeping in your beds. The police should be able to act immediately.”

Reflecting on the debate, the Hove MP added: “I’m more than happy to draw attention to the feelings of those with different opinions to me, even if I strongly disagree with them. For the best possible solution to emerge, we need to hear both sides of the debate. I speak to both squatters and homeowners as often as I can yet I still can’t see how anything but a change in the law is the way forward.

“We have a huge homeless problem in my own constituency yet a typical squatter is not the same sort of person as a typical homeless individual. I have even met several seemingly wealthy squatters. We must help the homeless more than we currently do but homeowners should not be forgotten either.

“I simply feel that when the squatters move in, there should be no question about removal being anything but immediate. This is why I have been campaigning for a change so vigorously.”

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Posted by on October 3, 2011. Filed under Conservatives,Hove. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

One Response to Hove MP in dispute with 160 lawyers over squatting laws

  1. Tom

    October 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I’m a squatter. Not really by any choice, but that is the cards I have been dealt, and I feel I deal with my situation in the most humane way possible. I do not damage buildings, steal things in any way shape or form. If I squat a building, it will be one with no use to it at all, that has been left to rot. Which is quite often the case these days within this corporate world, perfectly good buildings are left long forgotten as a result of nobody having any money to do anything with said properties. I personally think it is an outrage that their are thousands of homeless everywhere, and thousands of forgotten buildings. Police and M.Ps make it consistently difficult for people just to get a roof over their heads, even when they are sleeping in the doorway of one. Personally, I will not sit back and take it. I feel the homeless situation in this Country is a direct result of a poorly run and designed system, as well as a way too impersonal approach from those in charge. Generally because they really do not know what it is like to live without at least £10,000 in their bank accounts. I agree some squatters do take the biscuit, but I personally make an attempt to teach people to approach things peacefully and calmly, with the main intention of causing least disruption to everyone as possible, as well as being fully sociable and respectful to everyone. I do think more of an effort needs to be put into prosecution of “squatters” who damage buildings and steal things. But I have witnessed media distortions of stories myself, and I would like it to be known there is such a thing as considerate and productive squatting. But obviously you would never see that in the paper.. I will quite happily sit there all day long with Mike Weatherley too talk about the problems at hand, and know many other rational individuals with some good inputs and experience. I’m sure there are other solutions to sort out the mess, other than criminalizing every individual who seeks, like an animal in the jungle, for shelter when they’re down on their luck.
    Peace Love Unity Respect

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