Wandsworth Council Backs Down Over Rioter Eviction

By Cllr Tony Belton

Wandsworth Council decided not to evict the mother and 8 year old sister of the rioter convicted last week (see my blog entry of 12 January). This marks a victory for sanity against the knee-jerk threats of eviction made by both David Cameron and the Council in August.

It is great news for the tenant and an enormous weight off her shoulders, following what Judge Darling had called the biggest tragedy of the many sentences he had imposed as a consequence of the riots. The Council was forced to recognise just how much the family was a pillar of the local community and to backdown from the gung-ho rhetoric used by the Tory party in last September’s Council Meeting.

From my point of view, opposing the evictions policy as self-defeating and deeply malicious, this family could not have been a better test case. As the judge said last week, the family are “Christian with both a capital and a small c” and an integral part of the community. There will be tougher cases coming forward, no doubt, where the convicted rioters will be more culpable than Daniel and the innocent other members of the family less vulnerable than a single mother and 8 year old. But that will not stop those other members of the family being as innocent as Maite.

I will try and defend them as much as I have done Maite.

PS This WBC decision followed an interview between tenant and local housing manager, where essentially the tenant was being interviewed for her general status as a tenant and very unsurprisingly the local housing manager could see nothing wrong with the tenant’s record as a tenant or any reason why the Council should evict her. The idea that the Council backdown was as a result of pressure from various outside fringe groups is simply farcical. Whether it was partly as a result of the pressure Labour councillors put on the Tories in Wandsworth, only senior officers and senior councillors can really say.


Tony Belton on evictions:


Cllr. Leonie Cooper on evictions:


Justice for a rioter and his family?

By Cllr. Tony Belton 

I went to the Crown Court on 10 January to hear Daniel’s sentence – you will remember I was interested in his case following his involvement in the riots on August 8th in Clapham Junction. The headline is that he received 11 months, which Judge Darling said would mean that he would serve half that time in custody and the other half “free” on licence. The Judge also said that the 83 days he had been on conditional bail would be counted against the sentence leaving, according to my calculation, Daniel serving about a further 87 days in custody.

Judge Darling said in sentencing that this was the “most tragic” case he had come across in the whole riot aftermath. He accepted Daniel’s story about how he happened to be in Clapham Junction and that he arrived on the scene after Curry’s had been broken into. He acknowledged that Daniel was of good character (that is had no previous of any kind) indeed the Judge went on to say that Daniel was an exceptional young man with some level of educational achievement. Daniel was a Christian with both a capital and a lower case c, he said, working for the good of the community – the Judge said “an aid worker”, a helper, a doer with many good character references.

But in the aftermath of the riots despite all mitigation and against the PSR (Pre-Sentence Reports done by the Probation Service) recommendation, he, the Judge, had to take into account society’s concerns and fears about the events of August and that he had no choice but to impose some level of custodial sentence. (I should add that the Judge retired for 46 minutes to consider the sentence – he clearly did not do it lightly)

I have two comments: first that Wandsworth Council shows zero respect for the “family” if it pursues, as it intends to do, its policy of eviction with all the consequences that this will bring to bear on the mother and sister. I know the mother quite well and it is clear, and totally unsurprising, that she is under some considerable stress.

Secondly, that the establishment has got itself into a bit of a mess about sentencing in this situation. Whilst Daniel aged 18, with no previous record at all, got 11 months, a man aged 30, sentenced at the same time as Daniel with 11 previous convictions for 22 offences having served two separate terms of 6 and 7 years, got a custodial sentence of 20 months!

Read the update here:


Liberty backs mother over riot threat

A mother facing eviction from her council flat after her teenage son was convicted of looting today enlisted the aid of human rights group Liberty to save her home from the bailiffs.

Daniel Sartain-Clarke, 18, yesterday admitted raiding Currys electrical store in Clapham Junction as unrest swept London in August. His guilty plea allows Wandsworth council to seek an eviction order against his mother, Maite de la Calva, 43, and her eight-year-old daughter, turfing them out of the two-bedroom flat where they have lived for five years.

But Liberty said the threat – announced in a blaze of headlines the immediate aftermath of the riots – was an act of “shameless self-promotion” by the council.

Read the rest of the story here:


Councillor Calls For Justice In Riot Eviction Case

In response to Wandsworth Council’s eviction order of an alleged looter, his mother and eight year old sister local Battersea Councillor Tony Belton said: “I was appalled by the rioting in Clapham Junction, where I have lived for more than 30 years. Those found guilty should be jailed and will carry the shame with them for the rest of their lives.
“Yet the council leader has chosen to ignore the basic principles of justice in a rush for newspaper headlines. If Daniel Sartain-Clarke is guilty he should face the full force of the law. What is completely unfair is Cllr Govindia judging this young man guilty before he has faced any trial – and then vindictively threatening to make his mother and a blameless eight-year-old child homeless as extra punishment.
“Maite de la Calva, Daniel’s mother, works hard to support members of her community in the Shaftesbury Christian Centre. Throwing Maite and her eight-year-old daughter out of their home will weaken this neighbourhood, not make it stronger. This morning, before visiting Maite, I joined dozens of volunteers from across London in clearing out the community garden on the Doddington Estate. In the horrible aftermath of the riots it is important that we all work to repair the fabric of society and remain true to the basic safeguards of our legal system.”

Legal opinion is here:


More on the story here:


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