Michael Paget comments on Sipson squatters and Article 8 rights

Friday 31 August 2012

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Michael Paget gave an interview on BBC Radio Berkshire yesterday about the legal position of a group of squatters in the village of Sipson. The land the squatters are living on is of strategic importance as it could be the site of a potential third runway at Heathrow Airport.

While the group of 18 "Grow Heathrow" squatters claim to have the support of the village community, Michael explained that under the law, the landowners do have the right to evict. The only defence the squatters would be able to argue would be that to evict would interfere with their rights under Article 8 of the ECHR to home and family life as some have been living on the land for two years. This would have to be balanced against the landowner's rights under Article 1 of the first Protocol of the ECHR. In addition, Michael highlighted that while the local community may be supportive of the squatters, by living on land without residential planning permission, the local authority may seek to intervene.

Although the recent county court hearing ruled in favour of the landowners, the activists have been given leave to appeal. Michael went on to highlight that this will be the first time the Court of Appeal has been asked to rule on such a case involving squatting on private non-residential land, which will make the forthcoming Court of Appeal case interesting to follow.

If you have a few minutes, the report and interviews make interesting listening, starting at 0:06:30.

Michael Paget is a member of the Garden Court Housing and Property Law teams.

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