All protesters safely removed from Euston Square

The National Eviction Team, a wholly owned subsidiary of High Court Enforcement Group Limited (HCE Group), confirms that today, 26th February 2021, the final protester was safely removed from the tunnels they had dug and occupied under Euston Square Gardens since 27th January 2021.

The National Eviction Team was instructed on this matter by HS2 Ltd. They had undertaken extensive planning and preparation with the team from HS2 Ltd, prior to HS2 Ltd legally taking possession of the land. That process had included detailed planning for the possibility that the occupants had constructed tunnels.

As a result of the detailed planning, the National Eviction Team was prepared for all eventualities. It was able to commence the operation straight away, having the operational plans, risk assessments, at height and confined space teams in place.

There have been false and baseless statements made in the press and social media over recent weeks with regards to the National Eviction Team’s experience and expertise in the safe removal of activists from confined spaces. Two applications were made to the High Court by one of the protesters to halt the eviction on the grounds that it was unsafe and a breach of the Human Rights Act.

Two High Court judges in two separate hearings comprehensively disagreed, at the same time awarding HS2 Ltd everything it asked for in its cross applications. In the second hearing Mrs Justice Steyn rejected an application to stop the removal of the protesters. In her judgment, the Judge accepted evidence provided by HCE Group that the eviction was being undertaken in a correct and safe manner.

Protester removal is carried out under a High Court writ of possession or a warrant under a compulsory purchase order (CPO). Only an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) is permitted to enforce these writs and warrants.

All persons working on site as part of the removal of the protesters were acting as enforcement officers under the authority of the HCEO named on the warrant.

This includes any specialist teams, who are only legally permitted to remove trespassers under a writ or warrant if they are working under the direction of an authorised HCEO.

The authorised HCEO’s employed by HCE Group and the National Eviction Team have extensive expertise in the safe removal of protesters from sites, including at height and in confined spaces.

This experience has been gained whilst working for HCE Group, as well as with other HCEO businesses. Between them, HCE Group’s authorised HCEO’s have worked on almost every high-profile eviction in the UK over the last 30 plus years.

The National Eviction Team has dedicated specialist teams for ground removal, removing lock-ons, working at height and in tunnels/confined spaces. Core members of the specialist teams have been working with the National Eviction Team for over 15 years. All members are fully trained, qualified, competent and experienced and fully equipped to undertake the safe and professional removal of protesters.

The National Eviction Team also has specific insurance in place, for the far higher level of risk incurred in recovering protesters. A "rescue" level of cover is NOT adequate -those individuals who put their lives and the lives of others at risk are actively resisting their removal, they are not being rescued, and this increases the risks significantly.

Safety is always of paramount concern and this was fully the case on this operation. The National Eviction Team would like to thank the Health & Safety Executive, the Police, London Fire Brigade, MRS Training and Rescue (formerly Mines Rescue Service) for being on standby (although fortunately their rescue services were not needed), and the team at HS2 Ltd for their continuous leadership and support.