Travellers lose legal battle against Dale Farm eviction
But dwellers plan to 'stand ground and resist removal'
Published 13/10/2011 | 05:00
Residents of Dale Farm, the UK's largest illegal Travellers' site, have lost their High Court battle against eviction -- but are now planning an appeal.
They attempted to block their removal from the controversial site near Basildon, Essex, in three linked applications for judicial review.
Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting in London, ruled yesterday they had delayed too long in challenging Basildon Council's decision to take direct action against them.
He said the Travellers were breaking criminal law on a daily basis by remaining on the site and their removal was necessary to avoid "the criminal law and the planning system being brought into serious disrepute".
The ruling was a victory for Basildon Council chiefs who have fought a costly 10-year campaign to clear the site.
Traveller lawyers had argued the council's decision earlier this year to take direct action to clear the green belt site of 400 residents, including about 100 children, was in breach of their human rights.
The judge said he recognised that the removal of the Travellers was going to cause "considerable distress and disruption -- but in my judgment, the time has manifestly come for steps to enforce the law to be taken".
The judge refused the Travellers permission to appeal, but those in court said they would ask the Court of Appeal itself to hear their case. Candy Sheridan, vice-chair of the Gypsy Council, said: "We are disappointed. We are not surprised but the fight goes on. We will be seeking permission to appeal."
Travellers at the Dale Farm site said last night that they were going to stand their ground and resist eviction.
Dale Farm Solidarity member, Jake Fulton, said: "People are already flooding back, both travellers and supporters. We are expecting a big swell over the next couple of days and we'll be ready for when they come."
Dale Farm resident Margaret McCarthy said: "We're used to it. We're always losing when we come here. We won't give up."
Kathleen McCarthy said: "They talk about us being criminals. But if we're evicted we'll be forced to break the law again because we'll have no option but to stop on the roadside or in supermarket car parks. Where's the sense in that?"
Ms Sheridan added: "It is not the end of the road. It is not the end of the story. We have instructed our barrister to lodge an appeal.
"We cannot let Basildon Council proceed with this so-called lawful eviction. It will send the wrong message to the rest of the country."
And she urged senior Conservative and Labour politicians to address the issue. "I would very much like to hear from (Labour leader) Ed Miliband. I would very much like five minutes of David Cameron's time. Mr Cameron come and have a closer look and meet with us."