High Court orders Traveller family on Hackney’s Stoke Newington Common to move on

A Traveller family who set up home on Stoke Newington Common will have to move on after Hackney Council obtained a court order banning them from land near Olympics sites during the games.

The case was brought to the High Court on Monday by the council, seeking an interim ‘Dale Farm-style’ injunction to clear the caravans of Anne McDonagh and five other members of her family from the public land.

The head of family, Mrs McDonagh, made an agreement outside court to move her caravan by Monday, and not to occupy areas near the Olympics sites.

And Judge Anthony Thornton QC placed an interim injunction on the rest of her family who were not present, ordering them from to steer clear of any public land in Hackney until a full hearing.

This will take place in September when the unprecedented action of a creating permanent injunction, potentially banning all of the McDonaghs from all public land in Hackney will be heard.

The legal action followed a three-year ‘cat-and-mouse’ chase around the borough, with the council moving the family off land near Homerton Road in 2009 and then March this year, before they moved onto Mabley Green and Millfields Park.

The family, made up of four couples and several children, tried to access Hackney Marshes and settled on Stoke Newington Common last month.

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The council brought the case partly due to fears the caravans would be visible to Olympics spectators, and could interfere with this weekend’s BBC Hackney Weekend concert.

Wayne Beglan, for Hackney, told the court: “Conventional enforcement measures have failed over a period exceeding three years in as much as the defendant’s have simply moved from one area of land to another equally unsuitable area of land.

“The consequences are serious for other members of the public and their children who wish to use and enjoy the various public areas that the defendants have occupied.”

Mrs McDonagh insists her history as an Irish traveller has given her a “phobia of bricks and mortar”, and she and her family have nowhere to live while they sit on the council’s long waiting list for an official pitch.

Gill Brown from the London Gypsy and Traveller Unit in London Fields told the Gazette: “We are glad the judge took it seriously but disappointed Hackney felt they had to go this far.

“They could have provided a temporary site which would cost much less than all these evictions and injunctions.

“I’ve no idea what the family will do now.”