Human rights defence sunk at unauthorised boat mooring appeal

Release Date: 31/01/2017

The owner of a boat who attempted to use his human rights as a defence for flouting bye-laws the Council fought to be introduced was harboured by the High Court on Friday.

Richmond Council was delighted by the Court’s decision to dismiss Christopher Akerman’s appeal and uphold his convictions at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court in February last year following Council enforcement action.

The 39-year-old said he ignored Richmond Council’s warnings to move his boat because the new bye-laws ‘breached his human rights’. Akerman refused to move his vessel, The Longwood Lady, which he left moored to the Council-owned Ham Lands because the bye-laws breached his ‘right to respect for his home’ and would ‘make him homeless’. Based on this argument he ignored joint enforcement action taken by the Council and Police on four separate occasions from March to June 2015. The Magistrates upheld the enforcement action taken and convicted him of four offences but Akerman lodged an appeal at the High Court.

Richmond Council campaigned on behalf of residents and riverside communities to have greater powers to clampdown on unauthorised mooring. After four years of work the bye-laws were introduced in Richmond in March 2015. The bye-laws mean that if the owner of a boat moors it to Council owned or managed land for more than a set period of time they are committing a criminal offence.

Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Pamela Fleming, said:

“We have fought hard to stop illegal mooring and this is a victory for the Council and our riverside communities. We are pleased by the High Court ruling as this prosecution has been the first real test of our bye-laws to fight unauthorised mooring.

“The bye-laws have been considered robust by the High Court and these powers will be called upon whenever we need to clampdown on this problem. I hope this conviction sends a clear message to anyone who attempts to illegally moor a boat on our riverside in this way. The Council will not hesitate in taking action against you.”

Following the dismissal of his appeal, Akerman’s convictions on February 1, 2016 for four offences of contravening the bye-laws have been upheld and he is liable to pay the £200 fine (£50 for each offence), £20 victim surcharge and pay the Council £500 in costs originally ordered by the Magistrates’ Court last year.

Updated: 31 January 2017