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Sussex university spent £30k on student sit-in eviction
4:20am Thursday 16th January 2014 in News
The University of Sussex spent almost £30,000 in legal fees in a bid to evict pupils from a campus building.
The university spent more than £27,000 on legal proceedings to evict protestors who had occupied the Bramber Conference Centre on the institute’s Falmer campus until December 3 in a dispute over pay and conditions.
Campaigners said the expense was “pointless” as protesters walked out just hours before the court hearing finished.
The latest expense pushes the costs to the university of evictions past £100,000.
The charges included £9,750 for the services of Katharine Holland QC and £15,600 for solicitors Pinsent Masons according to a Freedom of Information request.
University officials said the cost was justified because a previous and more sustained occupation in March last year ending up costing the university £25,000 a week.
Protesters are set to gather again on the campus on Friday to coincide with disciplinary hearings for five students involved in the winter protests.
Third year politics student Gabriel Webber, who submitted the information request, said the university’s management handling of protests were designed to “intimidate”.
He added: “To put these figures in perspective, Sussex’s lowest-paid employee earns £13,839 per year, and the university has just blown nearly twice that much over the course of a few days on a pointless court order which had no practical effect.”
A university spokeswoman said: “The firm approach adopted by the university brought this unlawful occupation in November to an end in less than a week.
“We acted speedily in the best interests of all the students, staff and visitors to the university to bring this occupation to an end and to avoid any repeat of the violence and destructive behaviour of the kind we saw last March.”
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