Casebook: Court case - Gypsies face prison after breaching injunctions

The Court of Appeal has found in favour of two local planning authorities that claimed that Gypsies were occupying sites in Cambridgeshire and south London in breach of injunctions.

The Gypsies had moved onto sites in Cambridge and Bromley despite the fact that the relevant local planning authorities had obtained injunctions preventing caravans and mobile homes from being stationed on them. They were later committed for contempt of court because they had breached the terms of both injunctions.

They opposed committal to prison on the ground that the balancing exercise required under the House of Lords judgement in South Bucks District Council v Porter (2003) had not been carried out. This judgement required local planning authorities to assess the personal and social needs of Gypsies and to determine whether it was proportionate to evict them from sites or seek their committal to prison.

Master of the Rolls Sir Anthony Clarke held that the Porter judgement only applied where travellers already occupied land when an injunction was granted. It did not apply where travellers subsequently occupied a site subject to an injunction, he held. As the Gypsies had entered the sites in clear breach of the injunctions, he ruled, it was unnecessary for councils to carry out a balancing exercise before seeking their removal or committal.

London Borough of Bromley v Maughan; South Cambridgeshire District Council v Gammell; Date: 31 October 2005; Ref: B2/05/1086 and 1575.

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