High Court supports Islington council's bid to end Finsbury Square occupation


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The Independent Online

The High Court has backed a council's move to end the seven-month occupation of a square in London.

Mr Justice Hickinbottom said the balance was "overwhelmingly in favour" of granting an immediate possession order and injunction against the trespassers in Finsbury Square.

Islington council, in north London, said it would not enforce the ruling until Wednesday, after the Bank Holiday weekend.

The judge said he was not satisfied that the protesters, despite their sincere views on important social and economic issues, had any substantial ground for defending the claim.

Islington acted properly throughout, behaved responsibly and fairly, and brought proceedings as a "last resort".

The camp, which is made up of around 135 tents and a wooden structure, was set up on the public land of the square in October, as an extension of the Occupy movement's protest in St Paul's Churchyard - which ended in eviction in February.

The judge heard it had caused £20,000 damage to the land, cost the council £26,000 on security, and lost it £12,000 in rent plus income from the square's restaurant which had to close.

There had been an adverse impact on local business and complaints about anti-social behaviour from the camp, which increasingly became a focus for the homeless, and which had no running water or sufficient toilet facilities.

The judge refused permission to appeal although the protesters can apply directly to the Court of Appeal.