A group of what you might call professional squatters, but would be more likely to call opportunistic anarchists have seized one of Colonel Gaddafi’s London Residences. The group calling itself “Topple the Tyrants” occupied the residence in Hampstead Garden Suburb on Wednesday.
“Saif Gaddafi and the Gaddafi regime have taken millions of pounds, billions of pounds in fact away from the people of Libya and used residences like this. We’ve taken it so that it will be returned to its rightful owners who are the Libyan people,” said a statement from a spokesperson for the group calling himself Montgomery Jones.
The UK government has frozen Gadaffi’s assets, but the group said it didn’t trust them to return the assets to the Libyan people.
“We didn’t trust the British government to properly seize the Gaddafi regime’s corrupt assets so we took matters into our own hands,” said another member of the group who refused to give his name.
The group draped banners on the roof of the £1.9 million property saying: “Out of Libya, Out of London, Solidarity”.
According to the group the Police have entered the property and looked around before leaving again. This was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the MET who said that they were called to reports of unknown people entering an address in Hampstead Garden at 12:50GMT.
“At this time this is being treated as a civil matter. There have been no arrests. Police are monitoring the situation,” she said.
This is the first time this group has been heard of, and if Montgomery Jones is indeed the spokesman’s name — this is doubtful but not impossible — it raises the question as to whether or not this is simply a group of students who saw the opportunity to enjoy what has been called a palatial residence, featuring a cinema, swimming pool and sauna. This has been denied by the group.
“We’re here for a serious reason, we’re not here to luxuriate. I don’t think what we are doing is legal but I don’t think that’s relevant,” said Montgomery Jones.
The UK assets of senior members of the Libyan ruling family were seized last week after an uprising to overthrow the government gathered steam and looked like succeeding. Since then the government has managed to separate the rebels, and the uprising has lost steam. The consensus is that the uprising now cannot succeed in the short term, but that Gadaffi will face a nightmare in charge, without full control over the military and next to no control over the population.
Whatever the outcome of the uprising, if the UK government seizes the assets, then it will seize the property here, and the squatters will be evicted, then the UK government will decide what to do with the assets anyway. This, for me adds to the question of motive.