Open Letter to Mike Weatherley MP and The Argus

Open Letter to Mike Weatherley MP and The Argus

We would like to respond to your piece “Anti-squatting MP to report web claim”[1].

Firstly, we find it more than a little callous that the Right Honourable Mike Weatherley has yet to make a statement or pass comment on the tragic death of a man that was so clearly linked to legislation he is proud to have helped create.

We would also like to take him up on several points he made to the Argus.

He states;

“A typical squatter is middle-class, web-savvy, legally minded, university-educated and, most importantly, society-hating.”

We would like to ask what empirical data is this based on, exactly? Which surveys, which polls? Cite your references, please do, or you might end up looking like an uninformed bigot. Instead, look at research that actually has been undertaken and you will find that as many as 40% of single homeless people have resorted to squatting at some point[2], which would contradict your claim that homeless people are not squatters.

In what must have been a Freudian slip you say that squatters want a world in which “an Englishman’s castle is no longer his home” (sic). Once again you peddle the same disinformation that preceded the new legislation on squatting. Squatters do not squat other  people’s homes – if they did it would almost certainly be a mistake and the rightful occupant was adequately covered by criminal law preceding s144 LASPO. Squatters occupy empty buildings when they have few or no alternatives – they do not displace people from their homes.

Finally, a correction. The majority of forms of trespass are not illegal, and have not been illegal for hundreds of years. Trespass is unlawful and it remains a civil matter, partly due to working class struggles and groups like the Ramblers. Your attitude to private property is that of the land owners that belong in the “Medieval wasteland” you invoke, along with your Cabinet’s front bench. Similarly, there is no such criminal offence as “breaking and entering” – we believe that the relevant offence would be burglary under section 9 of the Theft Act 1968. It is disconcerting, to say the least, that a minister with such a charlatan attitude to criminal law has taken so great an interest in creating criminal law.

We, and much of the public, were deeply saddened to hear of the the circumstances  surrounding Daniel Gauntlett’s death, a sadness Mike Weatherley MP seems unable or unwilling to share. If the typical squatter were society hating, as he states, they may well be justified in hating a society that has allowed a homeless man to freeze to death on the steps of an empty home.

SQUASH will continue to campaign against the bigotry and myths perpetuated by Weatherley and the mainstream media about squatting. We will use reasoned argument, validated research and facts to counter the stream of cynical manipulation and unfounded claims that come from politicians and media sources alike.

Sincerely,

Squatters Action for Secure Homes



[1] http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/10269294.Anti_squatting_MP_to_report_web_claim/
[2] http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/Crisis_SquattingReport_SEPT2011.pdf