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Unlawful occupation of Bramber House ends

The University today (Tuesday 2 April) brought to an end an unlawful occupation of the Terrace Room in Bramber House, the main student services building on the Sussex campus.

The 25 remaining occupiers were removed when a High Court Enforcement Officer and their team this morning implemented the possession order that had been granted to the University by the High Court on Thursday evening (28 March).

Sussex Police were there to prevent any criminal offences, ensure public safety, and support the High Court Enforcement Officers if requested.

Chief Inspector Paul Betts said: "I am pleased that today's eviction by the High Court Enforcement Officers was relatively peaceful, resulting in only four arrests.
"One of the arrests was for violent disorder and criminal damage relating to an incident at the University on Monday 25 March and three arrests were for obstructing police when they were attempting to move the same suspect from the campus today (2 April).
"Sussex Police will always look to facilitate peaceful protests and have worked in partnership with the University and the High Court Enforcement Officers throughout this process."

The University had tolerated the occupation, which started as a protest in relation to the University's plans to work with external partners for catering and facilities management, since it began on 7 February. However, the University had become increasingly concerned about the risks presented to the campus community by the occupiers in recent weeks.

John Duffy, Registrar and Secretary, said: "The University has sought to act reasonably in bringing this unlawful occupation to an end, following the escalation that led to violence, intimidation, thefts and damage at a demonstration organised by the occupiers last week (Monday 25 March).

“They used the space that they were occupying to organise the demonstration, in which most of them participated, without any reference to the University authorities or the police. This reckless act endangered the safe operation of the campus and the health and safety of our staff and students.

"After the High Court had ruled on Thursday that the occupiers had no legal right to remain, we gave them time to leave over the weekend. We continued to ensure that they had access to food and water. However, not only did they not leave; they repeatedly made unsuccessful attempts to add to the numbers in the occupation.

"We have had to act in the interests of the whole of the University community of 15,000 students, staff and campus visitors. This meant that the occupation - which had been extended into other parts of the building by occupiers on Monday 25 March, so that we had to stop providing services from it - had to be brought to an end.

“We are now returning the building to its normal use for our campus community - for teaching, catering and food shopping at the Co-op store - and as a place of work for more than 100 staff. We are assessing the damage that has been caused to the building.

“Even without the violence, intimidation and theft that we saw at the protests on Monday 25 March, it was plain that the occupiers were increasingly acting in a way that had little to do with the practical issues the University is considering and ahead of the best interests of everyone at the University.

"Peaceful demonstrations are not banned at Sussex. But we will not hesitate to act against anyone who uses protest as an excuse to indulge in a repeat of the unacceptable actions of 25 March – intimidation of people on campus, damage to University property, and the theft of personal possessions. Nor will we tolerate unlawful action and occupational protest that threatens to disrupt the University, as we finish this term and approach this summer's examinations.

"We remain focused on how we can deliver better facilities management and how to offer more choice to staff and students, for example in our catering services, which currently runs an annual deficit of £500,000. We are continuing the proper discussions with the three campus trade unions, and the support to transferring staff, in relation to our plans to work with external partners.”

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Tuesday, 2 April 2013