Camesquat evicted: Game over for squatters as Camelot reclaims its former Hoxton HQ
PUBLISHED: 16:37 02 December 2016 | UPDATED: 16:37 02 December 2016
Squatters occupying Camelot's former Hoxton HQ have been evicted after security guards caught them unawares.
The group, which dubbed itself Camesquat, took over the building in Westland Place two months ago. It is owned by the firm whose mission, ironically, is to keep squatters out of unoccupied buildings by placing “property guardians” in them.
Camesquat warned it could cost Camelot up to half a million pounds to evict them after they “built in defences”, installing tripods, lock-ons and barricades inside the doors and windows, and said they could mobilise hundreds of supporters should they attempt to do so.
But yesterday afternoon, while many of the “best resistance fighters” were away setting up different squats, security guards came in the back door and told them they had to leave.
One of the few people who was inside at the time posted on Facebook: “AROOOGA!!! CAMESQUAT UNDER SIEGE, ILLEGAL EVICTION ATTEMPT UNDER WAY AS WE SPEAK, Calling all tribes to 20 Westland Place.”
But it was too late, as police officers had already been called to the building by Camelot, and taped off the street.
One officer told someone filming from Occupy London who caught it on camera: “We are going to close this area now. We don’t know what’s going to happen when they come out and we don’t want anyone getting injured.”
The people inside came out peacefully, however, taking their belongings with them.
“We didn’t think they would stoop this low,” said Frank Freeman, spokesman for the squat, who told the Gazette that instead of displaying a court notice in a prominent place, Camelot had posted it round the back.
“It had been so long since they contacted us that we presumed that they were happy with us to stay in the building.
“It was a surprise eviction. You need to take squatters to court and get a writ by the judge and then they serve papers saying you have this amount of time to leave. We had no idea we had to go to court.
He explained: “There were only seven or eight people inside and before they knew it the security was in. They scattered and that was that. They got their stuff and left. They didn’t know how to resist. Camelot chose their time.
“They knew we would resist if we had a heads-up so they did an ambush surprise attack.
“Effectively we were too complacent. We just presumed from them saying ‘you can start an art gallery’ it would be ok.”
Bosses at Camelot unexpectedly offered to help set up an artistic and cultural community centre at the building the day after squatters took it over, but none of them turned up for scheduled talks.
Camelot’s chief operating officer Mike Goldsmith told the Gazette: “There is no real comment to make other than Camelot offered an olive branch which they rejected.
“Camelot then followed the legal process to remove the illegal occupants from the building.”