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'Why did Hackney Council clear out my survival kit?' asks Bear Grylls TV director whose rented garage was ransacked

PUBLISHED: 12:32 31 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:32 31 October 2019

Mark Westcott outside the garage where his belongings have been cleared by council staff

Mark Westcott outside the garage where his belongings have been cleared by council staff

Mark Westcott

A director who makes survival films with Bear Grylls was left fuming after thousands of pounds worth of expedition kit was cleared out of his garage by the council.

Mark Westcott doing the manilla rope crawl for the Bear Grylls show Mission SurviveMark Westcott doing the manilla rope crawl for the Bear Grylls show Mission Survive

Mission Survive director Mark Westcott was passing the garage he pays £700 a year for at Inglethorpe House on Upper Clapton's Tower Gardens Estate when he saw workers removing his belongings.

He has no arrears and was given no notification that clearance was due to take place apart from two letters pinned to the door - which he hadn't seen - giving him seven days' notice.

"I was lucky to be passing as the final things were being taken and was able to retrieve a few items, but so much has gone," he told the Gazette.

Amongst the missing items are desert, jungle, mountain and arctic clothing, as well as maps, stoves and mountain boots.

Mark added: "Not only are some of these items of sentimental value having been around the world with me and through important times in my life, they will also cost thousands in total to replace.

"I would never have imagined Hackney Council would take and destroy the expedition clothing and equipment I have taken years to assemble and that I rely on in the field.

"This is really heartbreaking.

"Things that have been with me since my teenage years, in my army days and in a career of expedition film-making taken away from me and lost, with no explanation or legal justification."

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To add insult to injury, Mark - and the Gazette - were copied in to what appears to be an internal email from a member of staff.

It stated: "I believe this can be managed amongst ourselves, if all that is missing are old clothing then we can offer him a small compensation and terminate his current garage due to severe leak.

"The compensation maybe inform of couple of weeks rent weaver (sic).

"I am happy to refer it to insurance but I feel it can be resolved much quicker with the rent weaver."

Since he complained and was told all of his goods had been disposed of, his missing road racer bicycle and a Bergens rucksack were mysteriously returned.

The council would not confirm whether a fraud investigation has been launched.

A spokesperson said they could not comment on what happened because Mark has launched legal proceedings for trespass and conversion, but said they are "deeply sorry".

Mark is aware of another man whose tools and life collection of vinyl and record decks were taken in almost identical circumstances - meaning he lost his primary and secondary sources of income.

He continued: "There seems to be no-one at council officer level willing to take responsibility and no central point of contact. No explanation from anyone. Nothing. I have been told everything, from: 'We emptied the garage because they didn't have my phone number', to: 'Sorry. I posted the wrong legal notice on your garage door', to: 'We emptied your garage because it was flooded'.

"There is no itinerary taken, no accountability and so things either go to landfill or 'evaporate' out.

"It's a leaky system and there is no recourse."

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