Michelle Kent contacted me on Twitter a few days ago and sent me this link. On Sunday,
Yesterday, I wrote a draft petition to drop the charges against Mr Michael Hilton , but I want to get in touch with Mr Hilton or his son Johnny before I launch the petition. His son Johnny and Mr Hilton’s sister are now aware of the petition and are fine with it. I also contacted the court to which his case has been assigned, as far as I know. I have tweaked the text a little bit more.
Below, you can read the draft.
Why is this important? Because this concerns every person living in Britain. What happened to Mr Hilton can happen to anyone in Britain, whether we’re aware of it or not.
The following took place.
Mr Hilton of Meadoway, Church in East Lancashire felt very vulnerable and grew increasingly upset when he was threatened with eviction from the home in which he’d been living for 30 years. He responded by threatening to blow up his home.
The reason for the eviction was that Mr Hilton developed rent arrears as a result of what PM David Cameron euphemistically and callously calls the withdrawal of the spare room subsidy, and what I see as an instrument of a feudal aristocracy, the so-called bedroom tax.
We all tend to assume that when someone else is threatened with eviction, the person could make this ‘go away’ if only they would act. Because we have no choice but to believe that if it happened to us, we would make it go away. Because we, we would act. That is how threatening the idea of an eviction is to most of us. Losing our home…
In reality, however, there is often very little a person can do against an eviction for arrears if the person has no money. In cases of rent arrears caused by the so-called bedroom tax, it is safe to assume that if the person was unable to do anything about the bedroom tax, he or she is equally unable to do anything about the eviction. Effectively, Mr Hilton was being threatened with homelessness after having lived in his home for 30 years.
I don’t know Mr Hilton and he may have been seriously mentally ill.
If he was merely terribly stressed, then chances are that he did not stick his head in the sand, but simply felt there was nothing he could do and was convinced that his housing association could not do anything for him either. I think that he threatened to blow up his home because he could not accept the idea that there was absolutely nothing he could do to stop the eviction.
He did not blow up anything at all, and no one got hurt. He just yelled. He was arrested because he had made many people worried which can be seen as a disturbance. He has been in custody since the beginning of June 2014. The plea hearing is set for 22 August 2014 and his trial hearing is scheduled for 12 November 2014.
A little earlier, namely in May 2014, David Garbett of Sunderland took similarly drastic steps when he chained himself and his wheelchair to the railings of Southwick JobCentre. In his case, his Employment Support Allowance had stopped which meant that he became unable to buy food and pay bills.
After he chained himself to the JobCentre, Mr Garbett’s claim was settled, and his payments were backdated. Mr Garbett was not in danger of losing his home, but he too was desperate so he did something desperate.
When austerity has already been part of your daily life for years, there is no room for more austerity.
It is believed that Mr Hilton was eligible for exemption from this wretched bedroom tax, but apparently did not know how to obtain this exemption. It is also believed that Mr Hilton had been in bad mental health for some time.
So here we have two men who apparently both had health problems. One was losing his home and spoke desperate words that others felt threatened by, but did not carry out his threats. The other one was fed up with having to go to the food bank and being unable to pay his bills and did not threaten but took desperate action.
One is now in prison and has lost his home. The other one’s claims were reinstated and backdated.
Mr Hilton – the man in prison – is a victim, not a criminal. He deserves leniency.