Dale Farm Eviction Would 'Violate International Law', Says UN Adviser

The eviction of travellers from the Dale Farm site in Essex would "violate international law", a United Nations adviser has warned.

Bailiffs acting for Basildon Council are due to begin forcibly removing around 400 residents from the UK's largest illegal traveller site on Monday.

But Professor Yves Cabannes, a specialist on forced eviction, said it was the council, not the travellers, who were in the wrong.

"A study which I led on forced eviction found that at Dale Farm and the UK in general the Government is violating international human rights law on three points. These are the right to adequate housing, the right to be defended from forced eviction and discrimination," he said.

During a visit to the site he added: "The people who are abusing the law are the council, not the travellers. The council is not fulfilling its duties."

In July Basildon Council won the right to evict the travellers from the former scrapyard following a decade long planning dispute. A plea for a last minute injunction by the Dale Farm residents to delay their eviction was dismissed by the High Court on the 31 August.

Tony Ball, the leader of the council, said he respected the human rights of those living on Dale Farm, but said he also had to consider the rights of the "vast majority of its residents who want the law upheld equally and fairly".

"For 10 years we have sought a peaceful and humanitarian solution to Dale Farm, but it must be one that involves upholding the law of our country. The current site has been illegally developed," he said.

"The UN ‘representative’ may not be aware that Basildon provides more approved traveller sites than any other local authority area in Essex and among the greatest number of any area in the country.

"The UN refers to the rights of the families involved. Basildon Council respects those along with the rights of the vast majority of its residents who want the law upheld equally and fairly, and this illegal camp moved on after ten years of stalling tactics by the travellers."

Joseph Jones, a spokesman for the Gypsy Council, has said the revelation that 24 men were apparently kept as slaves on a traveller site in Leighton Buzzard was a "smokescreen" created by the police in order to turn the public against the traveller community in advance of the eviction.

But Bedfordshire police said the operation in Leighton Buzzard had "zero connection" to the ongoing dispute at Dale Farm.