The judge seemed to be taken the issue quite joyfully, and treated the defendants with comtempt, laughing, making jokes and shouting at them. On reading the name of the case, “Hackney Council against Persons Unknown”, he said: “it seems to be many persons unknown in this room”.
The sole object of the whole hearing was for Hackney Council “to recover possession of numbers 4, 8, 10 [...] derelict houses, occupied by persons unknown, since the 20th of February”.
After listening to the explanations made by Hackney Council, the judge said “You are trespassers, as simple as that”.
The judge was not interested in the reasons why they had occupied the building in the first place, or the ongoing campaign of demolition, sell-offs and ruthless closure of public services carried out by Hackney Council in the last six odd years. On presenting the case of the memories of the local people being wiped out, he said: “we're not dealing with emotions here, we're dealing with rights. If he has no right there, than that's the end of it”. He considered that Hackney Council have “every right to evict these squatters".
Even though he was not satisfied about the claim of urgency made by Hackney Council, since the building “has been derelict for years”, he issued the IPO there and then, since the “question of urgency is not one of the requirements to take an IPO”. This made it possible for the Council workers to take it to the theatre within an hour. The occupiers now need to vacate the property within 24 hours of receiving the IPO or face arrest.
The fact that there were lies in some of the statements made by the claimant did not deter the decision. For instance, Hackney Council claims that the building were inhabitable. On this, the judge commented: “if they were uninhabitable, they wouldn't be there”. He then went on to comment on the state of the roof as shown in one of the pictures presented as evidence: “I wouldn't be an expert on roof, but somebody is standing on it”. But this was not the issue, but rather whether they have the right to be there at all: “It's theirs!”, he shouted, “You're there as trespassers! What is your right to be there!”
One man who was living in the property up until 1999 and made a statement regarding his interest in the case, was included as part of the defence and, since he was the only person who has come forward with his identity, he is likely to be now liable for the cost of the court case.
The squatters say: “this is just one battle that we have lost, but the struggle continues. So watch this space.”
Please turn up to help moving the tables etc. that were brought to the theatre so that Hackney Council does not commit further pillage. Thanks.
everything for everyone
and supporters of the Occupation I think at 5.30pm. You can phone them 07919998567.
They are very friendly!