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UK Council unlawfully incarcerates elderly couple to take their land

UK Council unlawfully incarcerates elderly couple to take their land

Danny Beach bought his farm, Padd Farm, in 1985.  It was a 32-acre plot in Virginia Water, a village in the borough of Runnymede, Surrey, England.  Farming was in decline but the Beach’s did their best.  After a few years, they realised they would have to diversify and decided to rent some of the farm buildings out to others.

Runnymede Borough Council made life very difficult. Initially, he didn’t understand why.  “It was only years later that I realised they wanted my farm,” Danny Beach told LSB Film Productions.  As he found out, the Council wanted their farm for residential development.

The determination of the Council to seize Padd Farm led to the unlawful incarceration of the elderly couple and illegal seizure of their farmland.

The farmland that was owned by the elderly couple was not only their source of livelihood but also their homes, filled with a lifetime of memories.  The repercussions of the council’s actions extend far beyond the immediate loss of land and imprisonment. Danny Beach and his wife, already grappling with the challenges of ageing, now face increased financial burdens and emotional distress due to the loss of their only asset.

The irony is: On 15 June 1215, Magna Carta was signed at Runnymede Meadows in the north of Runnymede Borough.

“The Council and residents are very proud that this historic agreement was created in our Borough and the great figures in its creation who are remembered in memorials across the area,” the Runnymede Borough Council website states.

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Speaking to LSB Film Productions, Danny Beach said that parking of caravans on Padd Farm began when his cousin needed somewhere to stay following a divorce from his wife. When the Runnymede Town Council realised he had caravans on his land, the Council would send homeless people to him to ask if he had a spare caravan for them.  The Council would then pay the Beaches for the accommodation.  This informal arrangement with the Council continued for 15 years.

“Then one day, [the Council] decided that the caravan site was unlawful so they prosecuted my wife, my son and me under the Proceeds of Crime Act,” 73-year-old Danny said.  At the time he was prosecuted, he was 68 years old.

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”) is a UK legislation aimed at combating criminal activities and dismantling organised crime networks. It provides for the confiscation or civil recovery of the proceeds from crime and contains the principal money laundering legislation in the UK.  It aims to target and prevent the proceeds of crime, including theft, fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.

“POCA is a highly effective tool against criminality, giving investigators a wide range of options when pursuing investigations into suspicious financial activities,” John Black Solicitors’ website states. “Since its implementation, the act has helped authorities to disrupt organised crime groups, recover stolen funds, and deter future financial crimes, making it an essential tool for safeguarding communities against financial exploitation and protecting the integrity of the economy.”

Does it sound like Danny Beach and his family’s caravans fall within the scope of what POCA is intended for?  Do they sound as if they are running an organised crime racket?

The first judge the Beaches were in front of at the Crown Court was fair, Danny said.  But he was replaced.  And the second judge was “completely different.”

“I’ve met more people in prison who were more honourable,” Danny said. “He did some shocking things and he didn’t get the slightest bit embarrassed.”

“One of the things he did was to [unlawfully] add on £1 million to the confiscation order.”

In 2018, at 66 years old, Danny’s wife was sentenced to 5.5 years in prison and 68-year-old Danny was given 7.5 years in prison.  At the time, Danny’s wife was undergoing treatment for cancer.  In 2014, Danny had undergone triple bypass surgery on his heart, so he also was not in the fittest of conditions.

Both Danny and his wife were released after six months in jail.  They were held in Category B prisons which are for convicted criminals who are not deemed to be the highest level of security threat, but they are still recognised as being “high risk” and require significant security measures to ensure they do not escape.

“We were only sent to prison so they could soften us up,” Danny said. “So we would agree to the enforcement receiver taking over our farm.”

While Danny was in prison, his solicitor visited him and said that if he agreed to the enforcement receiver “taking over the sale of our farm, she would push the property developer and we would be released from prison quicker.”

“They released us once we agreed to the receiver taking over the sale of the farm,” Danny said.

The name of the enforcement receiver was Louise Brittain.  At the time, Brittain worked for Wilkins Kennedy.  She is now a partner at the international business services company Azets.

While Danny and his wife were in prison, Brittain evicted the 25 tenants of the caravans on the Beaches farm – men, women and children – threatening them with prison if they didn’t leave. “Some had been [living] on the farm for 20 years,” Danny said.

All the Beaches’ personal belongings of value went missing.  Danny attempted to make a claim against the new owners of his farm, PHD Modular Access, for his personal belongings.  But failed.

Further reading: On the Take (PHD Modular Access) Website

Brittain has a poor and controversial track record.  In 2014, Bob Neill, Conservative Member of Parliament for Bromley and Chislehurst, demanded that high-profile liquidator Louise Brittain must “never be appointed as liquidator again” because her “ineptitude” led to the ruin of a warehousing business in his constituency in a false case brought by Brittain and HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”).

Further reading: Louise Brittain – The Receiver who evicted the Beach family and sold Padd Farm to her friends at less than half market value GETS AN AWARD!

The Beaches’ legal costs for the High Court hearing to “get out of prison” came to £31,000.  The High Court judge said that the Beaches had been unlawfully imprisoned but “refused us cost or compensation,” Danny said.

Soon after the Beaches were released from prison, their solicitor phoned Danny and offered to buy Padd Farm at a much-reduced price, at “a fraction of the true value.”  He made the offer on behalf of Runnymede Borough Council.

“I refused the offer.  He said if I didn’t take it, we would end up with nothing.  And really that was the only true thing he ever said to me,” Danny said.

The Beaches solicitor was Ben Hall.  “I did make a complaint to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.  They said that this solicitor had never had a complaint made against him before so they couldn’t do anything,” Danny said.

On 10 November 2020, a Master of the High Court granted the receiver, Louise Brittain, a Writ of Possession. On 10 June 2021, a High Court judge granted the Beaches an extension to give them time to appeal the Writ. 

“But on the 21st of June 2021, Louise Brittain turned up with two thugs and Surrey police.  They evicted my son, his wife was 8 months pregnant at the time, they evicted her and my three grandchildren,” Danny said.  “We had this outstanding appeal [so] they shouldn’t have come in.”

What ensued was a dramatic incident which ultimately involved 13 police officers dragging Danny out of his home and keeping him in the police station overnight.  The next day, Danny was asked to meet with police officers, not at the police station, but at the Runnymede Borough Council offices.

For the last two and half years, Danny and his wife have been homeless.  They are currently living on a derelict farm in Salisbury but the local council have told them that they face a £20,000 fine if they don’t leave in the next couple of weeks, by 21 February.

For years, Danny has tried to contact the media and attempted to get help from his Member of Parliament Dr. Ben Spencer, Surrey police, the legal ombudsman and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.  Although he has received replies, they have done nothing.

His wife has now got chronic lung disease and Crohn’s disease.  His son has mental health issues and Danny has asked the council to find accommodation for him.  They refused.  Danny’s son is now sleeping rough.

“I don’t want money,” Danny said.  “There are a lot more people out there more deserving at this time.”  What Danny wants is some help from those who are supposed to help him, his MP, for example, he also says “some advice would be good.”

“I’ve tried loads of solicitors but as soon as I mention my name, they weren’t interested,” Danny said.  “The last solicitor I had, Ben Hall [from Baron Gray], he was working for Runnymede from day one – not for me.  I was paying the bills but he was working for Runnymede [Borough Council].”

Ben Hall re-joined Baron Grey solicitors in early 2018, having originally trained there.  He is no longer listed as an employee on their website.

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