Judge rejects travellers' legal bid

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The Independent Online

Lawyers today failed in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the eviction of families from the UK's largest unauthorised traveller site.

They had applied for a temporary injunction to stop Basildon Borough Council evicting the families from Dale Farm in Essex from midnight.

The case hinged on the circumstances of 72-year-old Mary Flynn who suffers breathing problems and uses an electric nebuliser.

The High Court in London has now dismissed the application.

But Basildon Borough Council gave a legal undertaking to review fresh medical evidence relating to Mrs Flynn before proceeding against her.

Mr Justice Kenneth Parker said that 2009 proceedings in the Court of Appeal relating to Dale Farm were of "crucial significance".

That court had concluded that the council's decision to enforce was entirely lawful in that the Article 8 rights had been considered a number of times and the proper procedure followed.

He rejected the claim that a further step had to be taken enabling specific individuals facing enforcement to have access to an independent tribunal.

He said: "It is in the public interest that there should be finality to litigation and only exceptionally can decisions and judgments which have been determined by the courts reopened."

Refusing the injunction he said the only aspect which gave him some concern was medical evidence received yesterday of significant deterioration in Mrs Flynn's condition since the Court of Appeal decision.

The judge was told by lawyers for the council that this fresh material would be considered before proceeding against her.

The judge refused permission to appeal although lawyers for the travellers can apply directly to the Court of Appeal.

Stuart Agnew, the UK Independence Party MEP for the East of England, welcomed the decision.

He said: "I am increasingly astonished to hear religious leaders, politicians and now, even an actress, calling for the laws of the land to be set aside to accommodate the travellers who have illegally taken over the site at Dale Farm. We cannot have laws that are only enforced on parts of the community. The law should be for everybody.

"Do we really want to set the precedent that if people occupy land without planning permission and stay there long enough, they will be given retrospective permission to remain, in contravention of the law? I am sure that most residents in the Crays Hill area would support the enforcement of the law.

"I have had to follow strict planning regulations in putting buildings on my farm and I expect travellers to be subject to the same regulations. In my view, the rule of law must be respected. The alternative is anarchy."

Dale Farm resident Kathleen McCarthy, 48, said outside court: "What I understood by it is that we've got seven days to hand in all the reports about all the sick people, and they're going to take another seven days reading it and looking at it.

"Well that's still 14 days for us. It's really a lot for us. For us that's a big deal because we have nowhere to go with these sick people."

The mother of four, who said there are 40 members of her extended family living at Dale Farm, added: "If they weren't building on Green Belt land already, I'd think, 'Yes, they're so precious about Green Belt land.'

"But they're building there.

"We're going to believe that this is good and that something good is going to come of this.

"Somewhere along the line, the Government is going to have to realise what they're doing.

"They are really coming into where we are and 'cleaning up', as they call it.

"When you're cleaning up something you're cleaning up rubbish, so they're trying to say that we're rubbish.

"We are definitely being victimised."