Camelot squatters’ ‘£500k’ taunt: ‘They can’t evict us from Hoxton HQ’

Squatters in the Westland Place building earlier this month. (Picture: Polly Hancock)

Squatters in the Westland Place building earlier this month. (Picture: Polly Hancock) - Credit: Archant

The group occupying Camelot’s former Hoxton HQ claim it could cost up to half a million pounds to evict them now they have “built in defences”.

The group, which dubbed itself Camesquat, took over the Westland Place building owned by the “property guardian” company – whose mission is to keep squatters out of buildings – nearly a month ago. Members said they wanted to highlight the homelessness crisis in the UK, and claim property guardians – short-term tenants who pay Camelot for the right to live in empty buildings – are not getting a good deal.

Since they entered the building they have installed tripods, lock-ons and barricades inside the doors and windows – making it “virtually impossible to evict” them, they claim.

“Any eviction would cost between £250,000 and half a million,” spokesman Frank Freeman told the Gazette. “It’s like a well defended castle. It’s funny Camelot’s logo is a castle.”

Mr Freeman said the group is “very surprised” Camelot hasn’t taken legal action yet.

“You have to take it to court first if they want to come in, but the place is running very well so I don’t see any reason we can’t stay here and do our thing,” he said. “I think it’s a stalemate situation. It’s a nice little place right now. We are doing workshops giving people housing advice about landlords and the rights of tenants.”

Camelot had the building on the market before the squatters moved in, and would not confirm whether it is still up for sale.

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Camelot’s boss, chief operating officer Mike Goldsmith, acknowledged the irony of the situation.

“I can assure you that Camesquat is not a stunt set up by Camelot,” he said. “But it has given us the opportunity to let people know that our guardian rates are well below the average rental rates across the whole of the UK and our aim is as always to provide a cost effective living solution.”

Drop-in workshops run every Thursday and Friday at the building in Westland Place from noon to 6pm, and include yoga, tai chi and meditation.