Anti-squatting MP to report web claim

The Argus: REPORT: Hove MP Mike Weatherley REPORT: Hove MP Mike Weatherley

An MP has hit back at claims he was “personally responsible” for a man’s death because of the new anti-squatting laws he pioneered.

Hove MP Mike Weatherley was instrumental in pushing a new law through Parliament which bans squatting in residential homes.

Following the death of a homeless man in Kent last month a website has been set up called “Is Mike Weatherley MP Dead?”, which claimed the Conservative politician was “personally responsible”.

Mr Weatherley said he would be reporting the matter to the police.

It comes just months after he had rocks and tomatoes hurled at him after he was ambushed by a mob ahead of a talk on squatting at the University of Sussex.

The anonymous website focuses on Daniel Gauntlett, a homeless man who froze to death on a doorstep of an empty bungalow.

The website said: “Police stopped him from getting inside the bungalow and he had taken the fatal decision to abide by the law.

"It was illegal for Daniel to live in the bungalow because of Section 144, the law which criminalises squatting in residential buildings even when they are empty.

“Mike Weatherley introduced this law and is personally responsible for the death of Daniel and all other poor and homeless people who will die as a result of this disastrous legislation.

"Even worse he now wants to criminalise squatting in commercial properties too.”

In response Mr Weatherley told The Argus: “It is true that some of those who are homeless have squatted but this does not make them squatters.

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

"They are political extremists whose vision for society is a dysfunctional medieval wasteland without property rights, where an Englishman’s castle is no longer his home.

“Trespassing has been illegal in this country for hundreds of years for good reason, as has breaking and entering.

"But the laws weren’t working as squatters were able to take advantage of legislation that was put in place to stop bad landlords from throwing out good tenants.

“Squatters should not be allowed to peddle their myths.

"If squatters really cared about the homeless then they would help them access council services, not scare them into believing that they would be arrested.”

Powers which came into effect last September allow local authorities to call in the police to arrest squatters in residential properties, rather than pursuing lengthy civil eviction pro- ceedings through the courts.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “We are not aware of any complaint made against this website or of any threat made in relation or connection to the sad death of the man in Aylesford."

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