Squatters ordered to quit MPs' house

Laura Harding,Press Association
Friday 10 July 2009 16:50
Comments

Squatters living in a house owned by husband and wife Labour MPs, who are facing a formal sleaze probe over their expenses, were ordered to leave by a court today.

Alan and Ann Keen were not present when a "draconian" Interim Possession Order (IPO) was granted, meaning the squatters must vacate the property in Brentford, west London, within 24 hours or face criminal prosecution.

Judge Stuart Plaskow told Brentford County Court it was a "rare case" and acknowledged that the IPO was "a draconian order" but was the only one available to him.

He said the question of costs and damages would be reserved until a later date.

Around 10 squatters have been living in the property, in Mrs Keen's Brentford and Isleworth constituency, claiming it to be a protest against MPs' abuse of allowances. They have been holding comedy nights and have redecorated in a Christmas theme.

James Sutherland, from the Advisory Service for Squatters, told the court the Keen's claim had a procedural defect because it listed the squatters as "persons unknown" when they had already given their names to the police.

Mark Felix, one of the squatters, said that because the Keens had claimed parliamentary expenses out of taxpayers' money for the house, taxpayers could claim part ownership.

"Public taxpayers and the good people of Brentford who mistakenly voted in these people are part owners, so it should be given back to the people as a community centre or a refugee centre."

The Judge rejected Mr Felix's argument because Mr and Mrs Keen are the only people listed as owners in the Land Registry document.

Robert Latham, representing the Keens, told the court the couple have owned the house since 1988 and had vacated while major renovations were taking place.

Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, John Lyon, is to investigate after it emerged that the house, listed as the main home of Health Minister Mrs Keen and her MP husband had not been lived in for up to a year.

The Keens have been dubbed "Mr and Mrs Expenses" amid questions over why they need to run a flat in Westminster when their constituencies are within easy commuting distance. Mr Keen's Feltham and Heston seat neighbours his wife's.

The couple have claimed more than £130,000 between them for second home expenses.

The couple themselves have faced threats of repossession from Hounslow Council because the house has been vacant for so long.

The minister has insisted that the Brentford property has been their main home for 22 years.

"Like many others who have had alterations and builders in their homes, we too have experienced the nightmare side of it," she said in a statement.

"We had no choice but to halt work on our home because we became very concerned about the quality and standard."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in