Innocent Daniel Sartain-Clark Is The Daily Mail’s ‘Riot Boy’ Being Evicted From His Battersea Council Home
DANIEL Sartain-Clarke is “RIOT BOY”. The Daily Mail leads with news that the 18-year-old and his mother have been served with an eviction notice form their flat in Clapham. The front-page headline declares:
“RIOT BOY’S FAMILY IS KICKED OUT OF HOME”
Sartain-Clarke lives in a “£225,000 taxpayer-subsidised flat”. (Does every alleged enemy of the state have a double-barrelled name? His lover is named J-Neil Starkei. Names matter in South London.)
Anorak loves it when the tabloid press put a figure on a property, especially a plastic-looking high-rise box in Battersea. The idea is that the alleged villain is living the good life but the paper defeats its own argument by showing readers a bland flat in what is now an area bedevilled by rioters. It’s worth £250,000 – to whom?
Sartain-Clarke has yet to convicted of any crime. He has been “charged with violent disorder and attempting to steal electronic goods from a Currys store at Clapham Junction”.
And that, according to the paper, is enough to get him served with an eviction notice.
Under housing rules his mother – as the tenant – can be evicted from their two-bedroom flat in Battersea if anyone living there is involved in criminality.
But when he appeared before the magistrates in Battersea Sartain-Clarke pleaded not guilty to to burglary and violent disorder. He has been remanded in custody at Feltham Prison.
Ravi Govindia, the leader of Wandsworth Council, thunders:
“This council will do its utmost to ensure that those who are responsible pay a proper price. Ultimately this could lead to eviction from their homes. Our officers will continue to work with the courts to establish the identities of other council tenants or members of their households as more cases are processed in the coming days and weeks.”
He then offers this pap. Just in case you read this sort of thing in the Mail:
“Most residents on our housing estates are decent law-abiding citizens who will have been sickened at the scenes they witnessed on their TV screens this week.”
Good that he can speak for the majority.
“As much as anything else we owe it to them to send out a strong signal that this kind of violence will not be tolerated.”
Take local resident Maite de la Calva. She’s Daniel’s mum. Says she:
“I understand there are people who have got to face justice because all this has been madness and savagery.”
She must be one of the “most” the council leader speaks of.
“But, I believe our human rights have been completely taken for granted. Daniel was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a mother, I’m not responsible for my son’s actions and they are penalising me for his actions.”
He’s 18. She makes a good point. But she does have tenancy agreement and contracts are binding.
As the council tells us:
Unless you are transferring from a secure tenancy, you will start your tenancy as an ‘Introductory Tenant’. Your introductory tenancy will last for one year. If you do not break any of the tenancy conditions during this time you will automatically become a secure tenant. As an ‘introductory tenant’ you do not have the same rights as a ‘secure tenant’.
The legislation governing introductory tenancies is strict. If you break any of the regulations you will lose your home. One of the conditions is that you must not have arrears of rent on your account. If you do get into arrears and your case goes to court an order for possession has to be awarded by the Judge.
As a secure tenant you have the right to stay in your property. You cannot be evicted unless we can prove grounds to do so in court and the court grants an order for possession. You will enjoy a number of rights not available to introductory or non-secure tenants.
So she, Daniel and her eight-year-old Revecca, eight, would go. She tells us:
“He’s a staunch member of the church. My son didn’t have a hoodie or balaclava. His face was clean and open. He’s very passive. He’s even been diagnosed with depression because he’s too passive.”
But he’s the Mail’s “RIOT BOY”. Is such reporting prejudicial to an ongoing criminal case?
Were his alleged crimes that serious? The Council ruled in March 2011:
Housing chiefs have warned tenants and leaseholders that they could lose their homes if they get involved in serious criminal activity on Wandsworth’s housing estates. The warning comes just hours after a huge police crackdown earlier today (Wednesday) on gang-related activities and criminality across south London.
In Wandsworth detectives and specialist police search teams raided 20 addresses and arrested a number of people aged between 15 and 35, mainly on suspicion of drugs offences including conspiracy to supply. Similar operations were staged in Merton, Sutton, Kingston, Lambeth and Croydon.
If those arrested today live in council-owned accommodation and are convicted of a serious offence, then the council will be looking to evict them and all those living with them from their homes. As well as tenants, this sanction will also be applied to leaseholders who would face the forfeiture of their lease.
The council’s housing spokesman Cllr Guy Senior said: “People should be under no illusions about what may happen to their tenancies or leases if they engage in serious criminal behaviour.
“If you enjoy the benefits of living in local authority owned accommodation then there are simple and straightforward rules you must abide by. If you break these rules then you will face the sanction of losing your home.
“We make no apology for taking tough action against those who bring misery to our estates by engaging in criminal activity like drug dealing or violence or who engage in serious anti-social behaviour.”
So. What next for the people evicted?
Households evicted are often then in a position where they are unlikely to be rehoused by the council or a local housing association.
Ravi Govindia adds:
The mother can challenge the notice-seeking process. The tenancy agreement does not just apply to the mother but the entire household.”
He said she would be deemed to have made herself deliberately homeless. “Then our obligation would be at an end. She signed the contract in which she and her household would agree the terms of the contract.”
So. Where does the problem go?