Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Hippies out

Squatters, who have filled Friern Barnet library shelves with 8,000 books, handed six-week stay of execution before eviction
Now you can't say that they've been treated unfairly given they've been squatting for three months and allowed nearly half that on top to pack their things and bugger off.

When the Guardian ran the first story on this, it omitted some pretty important stuff which was rather damning to the squatters, and they're trying to mislead with this one:  
"This is a victory for the library campaigners," said squatter Pete Phoenix, a member of the Occupy movement. "The judge has recognised the right to protest in buildings closed down due to local authority cuts."
No - the judge has not recognised this at all and here's why; Phoenix used exactly the same defence as was used in the Occupy St. Paul's case in the High Court and the Court of Appeal, namely that removing the protestors from their place of protest would breach the their rights under Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The Occupy St. Paul's cases were thrown out in both courts and the judgements can be summed up in short as we recognise your right to protest but you can't do it here and whilst you may consider the reasons for your protest important, we can't take the political merit of them into account. The same applies in this case.
She [District judge Patricia Pearl] recognised the right of the protesters to freedom of expression and assembly and acknowledged that to remove the campaigners from the premises would infringe those human rights. However, Pearl added that it was necessary to remove them to allow the council to engage with a bidding process for the library's future. 
"Removal of the protesters only limits their right to protest in the building. It does not fetter their right to protest entirely," she said.
Yep, so the rights of the owners, the council, trump those of the squatters and the squatters can protest with whoever they want against whatever they like, just not in the former library building that doesn't belong to them.
Ugo Hayter of Leigh Day & Co solicitors said: "This is a significant case. It's very important that the judge recognised the community library campaigners' right to protest was protected."
It really isn't. We quite rightly allow protest in this country, and that this "protest" has been going on for over three months shows that we're remarkably tolerant of it.

So what now?
The council may not see the back of the protesters for a while because they hope to have the judgment revoked at the court of appeal.
Which it won't be because of the judgement in the Court of Appeal on the Occupy St. Paul's case:
62 Of course, each case turns on its facts, and where Convention rights are engaged, case law indicates that the court must examine the facts under a particularly sharp focus. Nonetheless, in future cases of this nature (where the facts involve a demonstration which involves not merely occupying public land, but doing so for more than a short period and in a way which not only is in breach of statute but substantially interferes with the rights of others), it should be possible for the hearing to be disposed of at first instance more quickly than in the present case or in Hall [2010] EWHC 1613.
64 We recognise, of course, that it is one thing for the Court of Appeal to make that sort of observation about a hypothetical future claim, and that it can be quite another thing for a trial judge, faced with a difficult actual claim, to comply with it. Nonetheless, with the benefit of the guidance given in two first instance judgments and two judgments of the Court of Appeal (and the Strasbourg and domestic decisions referred to above), it is not unreasonable to hope that future cases of this sort will be capable of being disposed of more expeditiously.
65 Not least for that reason, this judgment, like that in Hall [2011] 1 WLR 504, may be cited as an authority, notwithstanding that it is a decision refusing permission to appeal.
tl;dr version: Refer to this judgement when hippies try similar shit in future.

On a final note, given that the council shut the library due to "Evil Tory Cuts", what possible sense does it make to waste even more of the council's funds on a legal case that will fail because of a precedent that Occupy, of which Phoenix is a member, in part set?


  1. You truly are a banker what ugly tree did you drop out of ingrate.

  2. Have you been to the library? Activists mix easily with local community, with 8000+ books donated to refill the shelves. Staffed seven days a week at zero cost to the taxpayer, courtesy of Occupy volunteers.