GIPSIES LOSE 'HUMAN RIGHTS' BID OVER SITE; Councils Welcome Court Ruling
Byline: By LUCY THORNTON
A GIPSY family yesterday lost a court battle to prove they had a "human right" to squat on a public playing field.
Seven Law Lords unanimously ruled that they could never have considered the council-owned land their home.
The verdict was "a huge relief for councils everywhere", said the Local Government Association.
Councils feared a win for the family - who got up to pounds 60,000 legal aid to fight the case - could have halted attempts to evict travellers camping illegally.
Richard Bennett, chairman of the LGA gipsy and traveller task group, said: "They would have been free to turn any public land into a home, including city centre car parks and school playing fields."
Leeds city council, at the centre of the case, said it was "extremely good news". Spokesman Les Carter said: "It upholds our right to take swift action to regain possession of our land."
He called for greater powers for councils to stamp out the problem, which cost Leeds pounds 250,000 a year. The Maloney family moved on to the field in Wakefield in June 2004.
Leeds city council got a court order to evict them but the family appealed, claiming it broke the European Convention on respect for family life and home. …