DBritish TV chef Gordon Ramsay is in trouble with squatters. At least six so-called squatters had set up shop and barricaded the doors of a fancy restaurant owned by a 57-year-old man in central London, the Sun newspaper reported on Saturday. It was a nightmare for the star restaurateur, the newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying. Police told the British news agency PA that there was nothing they could do as it was a civil matter.

Occupying non-residential property without the owner's permission is not a criminal offense in the UK. The police can intervene if later crimes are committed, property is vandalized or stolen. The squatters warned of trespassing on the notices on the windows and threatened the court, “The Sun” continued. It said: “If you want us to leave, you will need to file a writ of possession in the County Court or High Court.”

The listed building, hotel and gastropub near London Zoo is on the market for £13m (€15.2m) from late 2023. It was bought by director Gary Love in 2007 and then leased to Ramsay for 25 years at £640,000 a year. The Regent's Park pub was temporarily closed, according to the Sun. “Squatters” would have used this time to get into the building.

The collective wants to open a cafe

As the Daily Mail reports, the squatters belong to a collective that calls itself Camden Art Cafe. The Instagram post says they want to open to the public twice a week. Then there should be free coffee and soup. The squatters also asked for food and clothing donations on a note posted on the building.

The campaign has received mixed responses: while apparently donations have already been made to the collective, the Daily Mail quotes one local resident as saying: “Why would anyone bother and contribute to society when people like this can break into and occupy your property?”

According to government guidelines, squatters can apply to be registered as the owner of a property if they have continuously lived in it for ten years, acted as the owner in it and have not previously received a residence permit from the owner.