James O'Brien castigates ex-cop backing oligarch mansion response

15 March 2022, 12:42 | Updated: 15 March 2022, 13:04

James O'Brien takes former officer to task over defence of police response to squatters

By Seán Hickey

This former officer is taken to task after admitting the quick police response to the occupation of an oligarch's mansion was because of its value.

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Richard, a former Met officer with over thirty years experience, phoned James O'Brien to give his expert insight on the response to a group of squatters in Belgravia on Monday morning.

The Central London mansion of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska was "liberated" by a group of squatters on Monday, who proposed to occupy the property and allow it be used to house Ukrainian refugees.

Read more: 'Surprised' mayor to question police response after squatters seize oligarch's mansion

Many were critical of the police response to the occupation, with dozens of police, riot officers and a cherry picker being deployed to remove protesters.

"Is the police response going to be different in a 50 million pound house in Belgravia compared with an 80,000 house in Darlington?" The caller asked. "Yes it is."

James wanted to know why the response would be different.

"These people aren't the nicest of people" the former officer explained, telling listeners that "when the police started to go up the ladders, they [protesters] kicked the ladders down."

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He went on to argue that the squatters had the potential to cause millions in damage to surrounding houses and the police were right to react so quickly.

"You've come on the radio programme Richard, without realising it, [to say] that people aren't equal before the law, it's determined by the value of the house you own."

The caller denied James' claims, telling him that the quick response may have been because "they may well have been around the corner."

"Last time I got burgled it took a day and a half for them to come around", James said, before the ex-officer saying his claim was false.

"I was there!"

"Where is the threshold? How much does my house have to be worth in order for police officers like you think it's worth bombing around there at 100 miles an hour?"

The caller insisted that "poor people do" get the same response to the scenes in Belgravia, to which James reiterated his first point.

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