London

Belgravia mansion squatters evicted by bailiffs

People leaving the £15 million Grade II listed mansion on Belgrave Place Image copyright PA
Image caption The activists were from a group called the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians

Squatters who moved into a £15m unoccupied mansion in west London saying they wanted to highlight inequality have been evicted.

Bailiffs arrived at the Eaton Square mansion, owned by Russian oligarch Andrey Goncharenko, at 08:00 GMT.

The squatters were removed in an operation which lasted 15 minutes.

The activists, from a group called the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians, had occupied the five-storey property since 25 January.

They said they were protesting over the number of unoccupied residential properties in the capital.

Image caption The squatters were evicted at 08:00 GMT

The protesters inside the Grade II-listed building in London's upmarket Belgravia district - less than a mile from Buckingham Palace - told the Press Association on Tuesday they expected to be kicked out "sooner rather than later", following a court ruling to evict them.

A spokesman for the activists said they intended to move on to another property.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The group said it was now looking for other properties to occupy

"As long as we can occupy somewhere - I don't know which one is going to be our next building but if we can stay close to such a politically important area like this, the spokesman, a Hungarian national who gave his name as Mordechai said.

They also claimed up to 10 homeless people had been sleeping in the mansion every night and said they had invited rough sleepers from the area around nearby Victoria station to use the mansion as a shelter.

Image caption Bailiffs were called to evict the protesters from the Eaton Square mansion

Another of the squatters, Jessica Ellis, said she had been in the multimillion-pound property for three days.

The 23-year-old described the problem of homelessness in London as "severe".

Image copyright PA
Image caption The eviction took about 15 minutes

Ms Ellis added: "I have been homeless. I know the severity of the homelessness situation.

"I think if someone like him [Andrey Goncharenko] buys a property like this and if within 12 months still hasn't lived in it or used it for anything, it should be turned into some place for the homeless."

She added she was "one of the lucky ones" as she had supported homeless accommodation to return to.

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