Occupy London protesters 'take over' UBS office block

Adam Parris-Long

Occupy London protesters claim to have taken over an abandoned office block in Hackney that belongs to banking and financial giant UBS.

The protesters are believed to have gained access to the building on Thursday night, securing it in what they have described as "public repossession". The block has become the demonstrators' third base across the capital, joining campsites at St Paul's Cathedral and Finsbury Square.

[Gallery: Occupy London take UBS building]

“Whilst over 9,000 families were kicked out of their homes in the last three months for failing to keep up mortgage payments – mostly due to the recession caused by the banks – UBS and others financial giants are sitting on massive abandoned properties," said Occupy London supporter Jack Holburn.

"As banks repossess families’ homes, empty bank property needs to be repossessed by the public," he added. "Yesterday [Wednesday] we learned that the Government has failed to create public value out of banking failure. We can do better. We hope this is the first in a wave of ‘public repossessions’ of property belonging to the companies that crashed the global economy."

Occupy London have also announced that they will open the office block on Saturday, rebranding it as the "Bank of Ideas". A number of events will take place at the site, including a session with stock trader Alessio Rastani who caused uproar by declaring during an interview with BBC News in September that the recession was an 'opportunity' for him. "Personally I have been dreaming about this moment for three years — I go to bed every night and dream of a recession," he contentiously added.

The third occupation site at the office block on Sun Street, Hackney, has been designated as a 'non-residential' area- meaning that demonstrators will not camp there. The move comes after protesters based at St Paul's Cathedral ignored an eviction order deadline on Thursday night- given to them by the City of London Corporation.

Barrister John Cooper QC, representing the Occupy London protesters, addressed the media on Thursday night to assert that the movement is being 'fearlessly defended' under his legal advice.

"We are waiting to see what the city serve upon us," he said. "So far the the client has been given advice on health and safety issues, we've been right and they've been wrong (London Corporation). So far so good".

UBS hit the headlines in September as it emerged that 31-year-old trader Kweku Adoboli lost an estimated £1.5 billion in authorised trades while working for the investment bank.