Socialist Worker

Newcastle students defy eviction threats

Issue No. 2231

A banner in support of students hangs from the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle  (Pic: Newcastle University Occupation)

A banner in support of students hangs from the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle (Pic: Newcastle University Occupation)

Management at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne are threatening legal action against students who are occupying there.

Students received a letter asking them to leave by 12 noon today. They refused. They have now received a letter from Dickinson Dees solicitors firm, acting on behalf of the university.

It is addressed to “The Student Protestors in the Fine Art Lecture Theatre and lobby” and says that students’ continued occupation “amounts to a trespass”.

It says, “If you do not bring the protest on our client’s premises to an end by 12 noon on Friday 10 December, then we will advise our client immediately to issue proceedings against you in Newcastle County Court for possession and for an injunction to restrain similar behaviour elsewhere on the campus.

“These court proceedings are expensive to implement and our client [the university] will be entitled to seek costs ordered against each student, which could amount to several hundred pounds each.

“This will be registered as a County Court Judgement and would clearly have an impact on your credit rating which could have an adverse impact on you in the future.

“If injunctions are required and should you choose to disobey them, this would amount to a contempt of court for which the court has a range of penalties including fines and imprisonment for up to two years.”

It adds, “The Christmas vacation is approaching and the campus will need to be locked up and obviously this cannot happen if there are still students conducting a protest.”

Students are currently refusing to leave. Around 20 have been in the occupation, which began on 24 November—Day X. More students managed to break in and join the protest earlier today.

More than 1,000 students also held a protest in Newcastle yesterday, as MPs voted to allow universities to charge up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees.

Student Mae Gomersall said, “So far we have found it hard to make our voices heard and non-violent direct action is our way of drawing attention to the cause. More will follow.”

Students facing injunctions can argue that occupiers have rights under articles 10 and 11 of the European Human Rights Act. They can also argue that they are not trespassing because they have a right to be in university buildings.

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