Bank protest set for appeal court


Protesters occupying an empty office complex owned by a bank are set to take their fight to remain to the Court of Appeal.

A High Court judge today refused to overturn a "possession order" granted to investment bank UBS, which owns the complex in the City of London.

But Mr Justice Roth gave occupiers - who moved into the complex in Sun Street, Hackney, on November 18 - permission to try to challenge his ruling in the appeal court.

And he stayed any eviction for 24 hours to give protesters' lawyers time to make an application to appeal judges.

Lawyers said they expected to write to the Court of Appeal, asking for permission to appeal against Mr Justice Roth's ruling, later today.

Pete Phoenix, one of the squatters' leaders, said after today's High Court hearing in London: "We've got at least one more day and a day is a victory in a squat."

A property firm owned by UBS was granted the possession order by High Court judge Mrs Justice Proudman late on November 18.

Mr Justice Roth was told that Mrs Justice Proudman made the order during a telephone hearing with lawyers representing Sun Street Properties - but in which protesters played no part.

Protesters argued that the order should be "set aside" because it had been issued unfairly.

They said they had been unaware of any telephone hearing and did not have a chance to put their case.

But Mr Justice Roth dismissed their application and refused to overturn the order.

Lawyers representing Sun Street Properties had contacted Mrs Justice Proudman by telephone to ask for a possession order during the evening of Friday November 18, Mr Justice Roth was told.

The telephone hearing was fixed for later that evening after Sun Street Properties' lawyers said there were health and safety concerns about theprotesters and fears that buildings might be damaged.

Mr Justice Roth said arrangements made by Sun Street to notify protesters of that telephone hearing were "profoundly unsatisfactory" and "grossly inadequate".

He said details had been contained in a 100-page bundle of documents delivered to the complex less than an hour before the hearing.

But he said he had concluded that the possession order would have still been granted if protesters had put their case.