- Luxury property developers want to evict families living sustainably at the birthplace of modern democracy
- Tax-avoiding company armed with six-strong legal defence team
- Heartfelt plea from single mum facing bedroom tax heard by judge
- Developers argue company property rights trump human right to a home
- Case hinges on whether requirement for “proportionality test” has been met
At 2pm today Mrs. Justice Simler will give her ruling in the Runnymede eco-village eviction appeal case at Court Room 12 at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand.
The judgement will determine whether the tax haven registered, luxury property developer Orchid Runnymede Ltd can proceed with the immediate demolition of some 40 eco-homes and the eviction of the community of precarious families and children in order to build homes for the super rich. The respondents argue eco-vlllagers are simply trespassers on what they repeatedly described as “trophy land’.
Acting for eco-village resident Anthony Seanor, lawyer Michael Paget argued yesterday that the judge in the lower court set too high a bar for a “proportionality test” which is required to ensure that – when there is a strongly arguable case such as the Article 8 Human Right to a home, that applicants are not summarily dismissed, but that their case is given proper consideration in court.
Paget suggested the case was “strongly arguable” rather than “an ordinary trespass” for reasons which included:
- the village had been established for over three years, and people had their homes on the land
- the landowner was not actively using the land
- the land was historically significant because of (i) its proximity to the Runnymede site and (ii) the fact that the land had been used historically for educational purposes and the eco-village activities more in line with this than the private developers’ plans
“Justice has to be seen to be done, as well as being done. The first judge failed to undertake a proper review, which is the least the eco-village deserves.”
Eco-villager James Hampson who was representing himself asserted that the case was exceptional due to the economic duress that members of the village community would otherwise be facing. He asserted the village’s common right to provide for themselves by living off the land, and that the law ought to recognise their right to act as custodians on the land, acting for the common good.
Peter Phoenix who was also acting as a litigant in person argued that the judge in the lower court did not take into account substantive arguments advanced by the eco-villagers in relation to the Magna Carta, the Charter of the Forest and common law rights. These were foundation stones of our constitution not merely “esoteric” matters as the respondents alleged.
Ongoing common rights, originating in the Charter of the Forest, gives people the right to provide for themselves from the land. The eco-village is located in Coppers Hill coppice which has a long tradition of being open to the public.
“This site is an important part of our common national heritage and should be saved for the enjoyment of all.”
For background on this case, see previous press releases: