In an unusual case which revealed the High Court’s power to guard against wrongful acts – even before they happen – a temporary injunction was granted on the basis of little more than a rumour that gypsy families were preparing to move onto a green belt site.
The land had been the subject of a recently refused planning application for change of use to a caravan site and, in a pre-emptive strike, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead sought the injunction after a local resident reported that a member of a gypsy family had expressed an intention to move onto it.
The Court noted that the alleged ‘verbal threat’ amounted to only ‘slender’ evidence that the arrival of mobile homes on the site was imminent, but nevertheless ruled that ‘the balance of risk’ came down in favour of granting an injunction of short duration to forbid the site’s occupation and to maintain the status quo.
The order was issued for a seven-day period and the owners of the land and anyone else affected by it were granted a full opportunity to make representations to the Court. Directions were given for the order to be posted on notice boards around the site and for it to be served on any interested parties that had been identified.