WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

A political eviction?

20 February, 2017

Heiko Khoo with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

HE has run the Karl Marx walking tour for years and has been a committed socialist for three decades.

But now Heiko Khoo – a regular at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park – tells Diary he’s being evicted for his political views.

Mr Khoo has been living in a property guardian scheme in Ingestre Court, Soho, for almost a year.

Property guardians stay in empty commercial properties at reduced rents in order to protect the spaces from squatters. They live there in the knowledge they can be evicted with a month’s notice – without reason.

Recently he proposed to Labour councillor, Paul Dimoldenberg, that the space be used for a community arts project.

Days later he was served with an eviction notice by Camelot Property Management, which runs the guardian programme. Mr Khoo told Diary: “Camelot plan to kick me out on the street. They know that I have been speaking in Hyde Park as a socialist for 30 years, that I run the Karl Marx walking tour and that I stand up for people’s rights.

“They are clearly victimising me for my political views.”

Diary attempted to contact Camelot about the specifics surrounding the eviction but the company was unavailable for comment.

Emails from Camelot to Mr Khoo suggested that he was in breach of his housing agreement on a number of points, while also ordering him to remove displays that “…relate to political beliefs” that could be seen by the public.

The emails added “so you may enjoy them in private but that others aren’t then subject to seeing them on their travels”.

Mr Khoo said he had discussed with Cllr Dimoldenberg, shortly before receiving an eviction notice, his proposal for developing the space in the future in a way that will help “preserve the social, cultural and artistic fabric of Soho”.

He believes it was this proposal that set in motion the eviction process.

Cllr Dimoldenberg told Diary: “I have taken up his case with the council. He has obviously received notice to quit and that is not good for anyone.”

Mr Khoo said: “I will campaign for guardians to have their legal rights respected and for councils like Westminster to take responsibility to regulate guardian schemes. I think guardians need to come together to defend their rights. So I am now networking with other guardians to form a sort of guardians’ union.”

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