Squatters have taunted an MP who is campaigning to outlaw people occupying shops and businesses.

Last Friday a group got into an old school building in The Drive, Hove, forcing the owners to mount a legal challenge to remove them.

One message left in the window claimed the squat was legitimate under section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, which came into force on the first day of September.

Another poster on the door was signed ‘Mike Wearthly’ in scrawled handwriting.

In recent months Hove MP Mike Weatherley has campaigned to criminalise squatting in commercial properties as well as residential homes.

Graffiti-covered walls Two weeks ago he was pelted with rocks, tomatoes and eggs by angry protesters as he prepared to give an anti-squatting speech at the University of Sussex.

Police powerless

Sussex Police said they were powerless to remove the group from the old Drive Prep school building as they were not breaking the law.

But yesterday (November 29) the squatters unexpectedly walked out of the building as the owners stood outside discussing their next course of action.

Inside the house the group left graffiti-covered walls, smashed windows, cigarette boxes and empty cans of alcohol.

The owner told The Argus: “We had just redecorated for new tenants who have now cancelled on us.

“It’s so frustrating. These people just took advantage of the law and they left our property looking like a rubbish tip.”

Mr Weatherley said: “Instances like this highlight exactly why it is important that the law is extended to cover all properties. Once again, squatters have caused misery and distress and left an appalling mess after themselves.

“The owners will now have to pay a substantial sum of money to secure their own building from future break-ins and clear up the disgusting mess.

“This kind of behaviour is completely unacceptable and, like with residential properties, should be outlawed.”

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