Sadiq Khan says it was ‘unclear’ why Met Police sent so many officers to protesters in oligarch’s mansion

The London mayor questioned if the response from the Met Police was “proportionate” when scores of riot cops, uniformed officers and rows of police vans descended on the four-floor terraced mansion in Belgravia.

Sadiq Khan said it is “unclear” why police sent so many officers to a sanctioned Russian oligarch’s £50million mansion when it was occupied by squatters yesterday.

The London mayor questioned if the response from the Met Police was “proportionate” when scores of riot cops, uniformed officers and rows of police vans descended on the four-floor terraced mansion in Belgravia.

One banner read, “the property has been liberated”, while another stated “Putin go f**k yourself”.

Protestors occupying 5 Belgrave Square, which is owned by the family of a sanctioned oligarch.

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Four squatters who were occupying the outside balconies were evicted after a seven-hour stand-off with police, who drilled a hole in the front door and tried to use a JCB cherry-picker to remove the protesters.

Speaking to Andrew Marr on his LBC show, the mayor said the response “raised questions” and that he would speak to Scotland yard bosses about why so many officers were used to remove the squatters.

Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Cressida Dick has resigned as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

He said: “Operational issues are clearly a matter for the police, I was surprised though [at the response].

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“We know there are many properties in London owned by Russian oligarchs close to Putin.

When Mr Marr said, “they [the protesters] were actually doing what I think an awful lot of people think should be done. It’s the priorities of the police”, Mr Khan replied: “Yeah, quite. I understand that.”

He added: “I haven’t spoken to the commissioner about this today, but it does raise questions, I completely understand that. I’m unclear what the police were responding to, because we know no one’s living there.

“I’m not sure if there were any concerns about crimes being committed to neighbouring properties. Those are the sort of questions I’ll be asking.

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“I understand the concerns raised about the issue of whether this is a proportionate response and what are the priorities in relation to responses to issues [such as burglary] raised by members of the public.”

The squatters in 5 Belgrave Square.

In response to the questions about their response, the Met Police claimed the amount of officers sent to the scene was because they did not know what was going on inside the building.

A spokesman for the force said: “Officers were initially called to reports of people breaking into a house just after 1am. This led to an immediate response and would do so anywhere in London.

“Once at the property officers were told the intrusion was for the purposes of a protest. However, squatting in a residential property is a criminal offence.

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“In addition officers faced difficult decisions as they had not independently verified what was taking place inside the property, who was present and whether there were other risks.

“Over the following hours we deployed the resources necessary to resolve the situation swiftly but safely, both for our officers and the protestors.”

The mayor added he will talk to Cressida Dick “or her number, or somebody in the Met Police Service” about the occupation of the plush upmarket mansion.

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Mr Khan told LBC: “The more important point, aside from the actions of people who may have broken the law and whether the response from the police was proportionate, is this is one of many properties in London sitting empty, as this one has been for some time gathering dust.

“We know, [the properties are] owned by Russian oligarchs close to Putin and there’s no reason at all why those properties couldn’t have been seized earlier to allow them to be used - whether its for those fleeing Ukraine or even sold and the monies use for worthy causes, rather than them sitting empty and people taking the law into their own hands.”

Deripaska is one of Putin’s allies and said to be one of the Russian president’s ‘favourites’, estimated to be worth around £2bn made from the aluminium industry.

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