The government has been found guilty of abusing the human rights of a gypsy
family evicted from land in Leeds.
The gypsy way of life merits special consideration, the judges say
James Connors, 49, and his family were awarded £10,000 in damages and £14,000 costs by judges in Strasbourg.
They had claimed their eviction by local authority officials from their home of 13 years breached the Human Rights Convention.
The judges said special consideration had to be given to the needs of gypsies and their different lifestyle.
Children a 'nuisance'
"To that extent, there was a positive obligation on the United Kingdom to facilitate the gypsy way of life," said Thursday's ruling.
For 13 years the family, who now live in the Lancashire area, occupied an official local authority-designated gypsy site at Cottingley Springs in Leeds.
On 29 March 1999, Mr Connors's adult daughter Margaret Connors was granted a licence to occupy the adjacent plot, where she lived with Michael Maloney. Mr
Connors's adult sons were frequent visitors.
The arrangements ended on 31 January 2000, the judges were told, when notice to quit was served on the family.
They were ordered to vacate both plots, on the grounds that Michael Maloney and Mr Connors's children misbehaved and caused "considerable nuisance" .
At the time of eviction Mr and Mrs Connors were living with their four children, aged 14, 13, 10 and four months.
The baby had kidney problems and Mrs Connors had suffered asthmatic attacks requiring hospital treatment.
In the midst of their troubles, the court heard, council officials arrived in the early hours of 1 August 2000, and evicted the family in a five-hour operation.
Since the eviction, Mr Connors's lawyers said, the family had been moved on repeatedly - leading to stress which contributed to his wife's decision to move into a house and separate from her husband in May 2001.
The human rights judges said: "The family was, in effect, rendered homeless, with the adverse consequences on security and well-being which that entailed."