Borough of Islington secures order to evict Occupy protest

Protesters at the “Occupy” camp in Finsbury Square on the edge of the City’s financial centre were evicted in the early hours of this morning after the Master of the Rolls refused them permission to appeal.

Mr Justice Hickinbottom had given a summary determination of proceedings against the protesters on 1 June 2012 at the High Court. The protesters sought to appeal this decision but were rebuffed by Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 13 June).

As a result the protesters were evicted from the camp at around 1am this morning (14 June 2012). According to reports the eviction went smoothly with no arrests. The Finsbury Square camp was set up around eight months ago as part of the Occupy movement demonstrating against perceived injustices caused by the banking industry.

The case against the protesters was brought by the London Borough of Islington, who instructed Cornerstone Barristers’ Ranjit Bhose QC directly. The protesters are understood to have represented themselves.

At the one-day High Court hearing on 1 June, Hickinbottom upheld Islington’s claims for possession and injunctive relief on the grounds of trespass and threatened trespass, breach of byelaws, and obstruction with the council’s performance of its statutory duties under the Open Spaces Act 1906.

The defendants had sought to rely on articles 8, 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights – respect for private and family life, freedom of expression and assembly, respectively.

The court reportedly heard how the protest site had caused £20,000 in damage to the land and cost the council £26,000 in security as well as costing the council over £10,000 in rent from a restaurant that was forced to close because of the camp.

According to a statement from Cornerstone Barristers, Hickinbottom held that factors such as length of the occupation and its interference with the rights of other put the balance squarely in favour of the council’s claims.

Protestors outside St Paul’s Cathedral were evicted in February (22 February 2012) after an acrimonious legal battle with the cathedral and the City of London.