Tories’ traveller policies ‘spurious’

Conservative policies to tackle illegal traveller camps are
“spurious” and may exacerbate the problem, say campaigners.

Tory leader Michael Howard proposed repealing the Human Rights Act
1998 this week to stop travellers using it to frustrate enforcement
proceedings against illegal sites.

He accused travellers of exploiting human rights legislation to
bend planning laws and site their homes wherever they wanted.

But Len Smith, co-founder of the Gypsy and Traveller Law Reform
Coalition, said Howard was arguing from “a spurious

He said there was nothing illegal about buying land, building a
house on it and applying for planning permission

Doug Jewell, campaign co-ordinator for human rights organisation
Liberty, said legal action under the Human Rights Act was
successful only when there were no alternative sites for the
travellers to move to.

Meanwhile, the Appeal Court has ruled that a council’s “absolute
right” to possession of its own land overrides the human rights of

The Maloney family argued that their eviction from the Spinkwell
Lane recreation ground in Leeds would amount to a violation of
article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

But, finding for Leeds Council, Lord Phillips said article 8 could
never defeat a possession order where a council had “absolute right
to possession” of its own land.

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