Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, has been attacked by a group of pro-squatter thugs just as he was about to take part in a debate on the criminalisation of squatting.
Mike was invited by Sussex University students to talk about his involvement in changing the law to criminalise squatting. However, just before the debate was to start, a large mob of non-students surrounded Mike and threatened him. Security officials barricaded Mike and his staff into a room until the Police, who were onsite, arrived.
Mike has been campaigning for squatting to be criminalised since his election to Parliament in 2010 and has been supported by the Prime Minister, as well as his colleague the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP, Secretary of State for Justice. Squatting is a huge problem in Brighton & Hove, with numerous instances of this organised and frequently menacing behaviour blighting the lives of ordinary people. Irate squatters have dubbed the new law “Weatherley’s Law” following Mike’s campaign to introduce the new legislation. The law came into force on 1st September 2012.
Commenting, Mike said: “It’s absolutely outrageous that a peaceful event such as this should be hijacked by a group of violent thugs. As soon as I walked in to the lecture theatre someone attempted to punch me. The event was immediately abandoned, but as we tried to leave, rocks were hurled, and two female members of my staff were injured. My staff and I were barricaded into a room, until the police arrived.”
Mike added: “The squatters have regularly attempted to stop free speech from taking place for the precise reason that they cannot justify their criminal behaviour. I have made a statement to Sussex Police, and to Sussex University Security, about the most violent members of the mob. Once the trouble started, both police and security did their jobs incredibly well. I am grateful to them.”
Sussex University said: “We are appalled to hear that Mike Weatherley was prevented from speaking on campus by a group of protestors – not our students.”