Landmark barrister defeats appeal over Dale Farm evictions

Basildon Borough Council’s in-house lawyers have successfully defended the latest Dale Farm legal action in the Court of Appeal.

The authority instructed Landmark Chambers barrister Galina Ward, who persuaded appeal judges Sir Andrew Morritt and Lord Justices Patten and Pitchford that her client had not acted unreasonably or unlawfully in the eviction row over the UK’s largest unauthorised travellers settlement at Dale Farm.

The appellants, evictees John Sheridan, his estranged wife Barbara Sheridan and Mary Flynn, argued that they should have been offered an alternative site rather than council accommodation when Dale Farm was cleared.

They instructed Keith Lomax, a partner at Leeds-based legal aid firm Davies Gore Lomax, to take their case to Southend County Court, where it was thrown out. Park Court Chambers barrister Alex Offer appealed that decision on their behalf. He argued that Basildon Council should have acquired land for caravans as part of its Homelessness Strategy.

However, his challenge was dismissed. The judges stated: “A cultural aversion to bricks and mortar is not enough to make the offer of such accommodation unreasonable even if (as in Mrs Sheridan’s case) it may risk bouts of depression.”

Last year’s clearance of the illegal part of the travellers’ site in Basildon, Essex, resulted in violent clashes.