Drug addict loses human rights fight for his flat

Terry Miller
Terry Miller
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A HEROIN addict who was using his human rights as a way of stopping his council flat from being repossessed has lost a legal fight.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal have ruled in favour of Fareham Borough Council, overturning a county court judgement and rejecting Terry Miller’s defence of a right to a private life.

The council has been given the go-ahead to repossess the one-bedroom flat in Gibraltar Road, Fareham.

Recorder Nicholas Wood ruled in favour of Mr Miller and dismissed the council’s claim for possession of the flat after a hearing at Portsmouth County Court in August.

The appeal judges were told by council officials that Mr Miller had a ‘long history of persistent criminal offending’ and was also a heroin addict for many years.

In December 2002 he became the first person in Fareham borough to be given an Asbo.

Officials said Mr Miller – whose rent was paid through housing benefit – had breached a tenancy agreement because there had been illegal drug use, excessive drinking, shouting, and foul language at the flat.

Lord Justice Patten said, in a written ruling: ‘The Recorder described the flat as having become during this period a running sore of criminal behaviour which has so upset some of the neighbours that they have requested anonymity. It is clear to me the use of the flat in this way must have made their lives intolerable.’

Mr Miller raised a defence under the European Convention on Human Rights – using the article which protects people’s rights to private, family and home life.

He based the argument on his ‘vulnerability as an ex-offender and drug addict’ and on ‘exploitation’ by others – and said he was ‘not responsible’ for what had occurred.

Lord Justice Patten said the claim for possession was not motivated by ‘administrative concerns’ but was ‘driven by the need to control the effect on neighbours of what has occurred at the flat.’

Lady Justice Black and Lord Justice Kitchin agreed.