Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Monday, 29 June 2009 16:42 UK

Squatters occupy MPs' 'main home'

Labour MPs Ann and Alan Keen's 'main home'
Mr and Mrs Keen say the home had 'been very special' to them

Married Labour MPs Ann and Alan Keen have come under fire for claiming thousands of pounds on a second home near Parliament, while their designated main home is only 10 miles away.

Now a group of people has taken direct action by squatting in the main home they say has been left unoccupied. The BBC's Lisa Hampele paid them a visit.

The remnants of last night's barbecue with the neighbours are in the front garden - some cold sausages and decorations on the pot plant. The squatters have a legal notice on the front door which says they have rights. They can stay.

The six men and four women moved into the west London property over the weekend and now they are adamant they will not budge.

"We've paid for their home with our taxes - so we're going to use it," Bob says as he opens the front door to let me in.

"You can see the Keens aren't using it."

'Reclaiming your taxes'

The house is in Mrs Keen's Brentford and Isleworth constituency.

There are missing floors, pipes poking through half-built walls and sacks of cement dotted about. The couple have not lived here for many months, some say almost a year, but Mrs Keen describes it as her main home.

The Keens claimed almost £140,000 over four years in expenses for their second home close to Parliament.

A bed sheet is hanging out of the window of their main home. In big, black writing the banner says: "Reclaiming Your Taxes."

Labour MPs Ann and Alan Keen's 'main home'
We find it extremely upsetting to know that our house is occupied by squatters who appear to believe that they are entitled to do what they wish in our property
Ann and Alan Keen

Another reads: "500,000 homeless - One million empty homes."

Serg, Joe, Andy and Bob were at the house when I visited. They are all local and moved in after an angry resident told them the house was empty.

"It's wrong for taxpayers to be paying for MPs to have two homes, when there are so many people who need somewhere to live," Serg says, making sure I do not fall down the hole by the stairs as we edge past into the half-finished kitchen area.

Pieces of plasterboard rest against the door.

Joe's back now - he had just popped into a neighbour's house to use the internet and download details of Ann Keen's expenses. He is not impressed.

Another neighbour knocks on the door with some milk. "Good on you," he shouts.

It is all very friendly.

'Urgent action'

Bob tells me constituents have complained that letters posted here do not get to the MP.

A man in a smart white hat and an accent to match stops his bike. He stood against Ann Keen as the Green candidate back in the 1990s.

He is another one who is all for the squatters. They sit on the front wall and have a chat, agreeing that taxpayers should not be footing the bill like this.

A council source told the BBC that the property, which is 10 miles from Westminster, had remained empty for seven months.

And in a letter obtained by the BBC, the local council has told the Labour couple that "urgent action" is required from them to explain why their main home is unoccupied.

The Keens say they have lived in the house for 22 years and insist it is being renovated.

In a statement on Monday they said: "It is our home and has been very special to us for a long time. We find it extremely upsetting to know that our house is occupied by squatters who appear to believe that they are entitled to do what they wish in our property."



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