12/10/2011 06:43 BST | Updated 11/12/2011 10:12 GMT

Dale Farm Travellers To Learn High Court Decision On Eviction

Residents of Dale Farm, the UK's largest illegal travellers' site, are to learn whether they have won their High Court battle against eviction.

They are seeking court orders in three linked applications for judicial review blocking their removal from the controversial site near Basildon, Essex.

Traveller lawyers have argued that Basildon Council's decision earlier this year to take direct action to clear the green belt site of 400 residents, including about 100 children, was "disproportionate" and must at least be reconsidered.

The council was accused of failing to take account of vulnerable residents, including the sick in need of regular medication and children whose schooling would be disrupted if families were evicted.

Council chiefs have fought a 10-year battle to clear the site. Their lawyers told Mr Justice Ouseley they had throughout acted lawfully and reasonably and complied with their statutory duty.

Bailiffs have been given permission by another High Court judge to clear 49 of the 54 plots if the latest legal challenge fails. Further delay might be caused if the travellers decide to try to appeal if they lose.

On the last day of the hearing of the judicial review application, Mr Justice Ouseley was told the council had agreed that some families could not be evicted by direct action.

Richard Harwood, representing site resident Margaret McCarthy, argued the council's original aim in taking direct action - to restore the whole site to a cleared, open state - was impossible to achieve.

He said the council was legally obliged to reconsider the benefits of continuing the action and weigh them against the effect on individual travellers.

Reuben Taylor, for the council, argued the direct action decision remained lawful and indicated some other form of action still might be taken against those who remained on the site.