London

Evicted Belgravia squatters 'posed security risk' to Queen

Buckingham Palace Image copyright PA
Image caption The Met Police raised concerns the squatters could peer into the royal gardens from the roof of 19 Buckingham Gate

Squatters branded a "security risk" to the Queen have been evicted from a mansion close to Buckingham Palace.

About 30 people were removed from the seven-storey building on Buckingham Gate at around 04:00 GMT.

Bailiffs were called to the property after an application for eviction was made to the High Court on Friday.

The Met said it was concerned the occupiers could see into the royal grounds if they accessed the roof of an adjoining building.

Court documents seen by the Press Association showed a Metropolitan Police royal specialist protection officer raised the "potential security risk" posed by the group.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The seven-storey building was christened the "rogue embassy" by its occupiers

Snipers stationed on the roof of Wellington Barracks were also in "regular contact" with the owner of the building next-door to raise concerns about the view into the palace gardens from the roof, the document said.

But one of the protesters insisted they were not "going to do anything".

Daniel, one of the 30 people who had been 19 Buckingham Gate, which is believed to be owned by a Bahraini national, said: "It was pretty unprecedented. To just wake up and you are surrounded by bailiffs, they came in stealth mode.

"I opened my eyes to bailiffs on the staircase."

He described the operation as a "swift and silent eviction", adding: "I didn't see them (the bailiffs) turn on the lights until I was outside at the door."

He added he had never experienced an eviction executed so quietly and with such a number of bailiffs.

Asked whether they would move into another property in the Buckingham Palace area, Daniel said: "We have to stay in the area... it would be nice to continue with it."

Image copyright Google

The squatters, who call themselves the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians, have occupied a series of properties in Belgravia, west London, since the start of the year, having been evicted from an empty mansion in Eaton Square believed to have be owned by Russian oligarch Andrey Goncharenko on 1 February.

The group say one of their aims is to highlight the number of empty properties in that part of London, which it believes could be used to accommodate the homeless.

Video footage posted on Twitter by Occupy London shows the protesters leaving the building, which they had re-branded the Rogue Embassy.

Within some of the footage, a man can be heard describing how squatting 100 metres from Buckingham Palace was the "basic aim" of the protest.

Signs stapled to the door of the property, state it is now being protected by a private security firm.

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