Howard Will Stamp on Illegal Camps
Byline: By ANDREW WOODCOCK
TRESPASS by travellers would be made a criminal offence under a Tory government, as part of a package of measures designed to crack down on illegal encampments unveiled by party leader Michael Howard yesterday Mr Howard said he was ready to take tough action to end the abuse of planning law by a 'small minority' of travellers, including repealing the Human Rights Act if necessary.
His proposals were greeted with scorn from Labour, whose election co-ordinator Alan Milburn accused the Conservative leader of 'riding shotgun on the latest bandwagon to roll into town'.
One backbench Labour MP, Kevin McNamara, even claimed his comments had 'the whiff of the gas chambers' about them.
But Mr Howard, himself the son of Jewish immigrants, insisted his plans were not racist, dismissing claims that he was appealing to bigotry as no more than 'vulgar abuse'.
Following a visit to Billericay, Essex, to talk to residents affected by a site which is home to around 1,000 travellers, he told a press conference in London: 'People claim it's racist to raise this issue. …