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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 March, 2004, 13:28 GMT
Fur flies over 1m house for cats
Ian Simpson and Cocoa
Ian Simpson said he was acting in the interests of the cats
A squatter has been ordered out of a 1m property he said he was staying in to look after the late owner's cats.

Ian Simpson, 43, said he wanted to stop the four cats being forced out of the house in Barnes, south-west London.

But Cats Protection, to whom the house was bequeathed by owner Lady Follett, has been granted a possession order.

Mr Simpson said he never disputed the charity owned the house, but he knew Lady Follett would have wanted the cats to remain there until they died.

Judge Richard Walker granted the order at Wandsworth County Court on Thursday.

Mr Simpson said: "The Cats Protection people are supposed to be protecting cats and they are evicting them from their home.

We feel Lady Follett's wish to further cat welfare in this country will be best served by selling the house
Cats Protection spokeswoman
"The cats people just want their cash."

Lady Follett, widow of former Science Museum director Sir David Follett, had turned the detached house into a haven for sick or unwanted animals.

On her death in 1996, her friend George Rapkins moved in to look after her cats at the five-bedroom Victorian property.

She bequeathed it to Cats Protection with instructions not to sell it unless "all reasonable steps" were taken to turn it into a home.

But Richmond Council turned down planning permission to turn it into a cats' home in 1997.

Cats 'to be re-housed'

When Mr Rapkins died in January, the charity was left free to sell the house - but found Mr Simpson was living there with Cocoa, Smoky, Sleepy and an unnamed female cat.

The charity has denied his claim there was an agreement to allow the elderly cats to remain at the house.

A spokeswoman said: "Shortly after George Rapkins' death Mr Simpson moved into the property without the permission, licence or knowledge of Cats Protection and has refused to leave.

"We feel Lady Follett's wish to further cat welfare in this country will be best served by selling the house. Then we can use the funds to help cats and kittens around the UK."

The charity's solicitor said the cats will be re-housed.

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06 May 03  |  London

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