The members-only Black Bull was taken over by 10 squatters who entered through an open window in the women’s toilets.

The pub closed three months ago when the business failed but the leaseholder said they were “almost out of trouble” when the squatters arrived, reports the Evening Standard.

The squatters claim they initially sympathised with the leaseholder and even helped him out by showing potential new leaseholders round the pub.

The leaseholder however, claimed that the people inside the building were aggressive and alleged that they had been stealing. Officers attempted to enter on Thursday to remove the squatters.

Squatter David Ameri, 26, said: “We are normal people. I sympathise with his situation I really do. We have even shown around viewers. We said to the leaseholder that we would leave after a few days as soon as we found another place, but then he called the police on us. We were being reasonable. Now he has cheated us. Now we will stay until he takes us to court.”

The leaseholder argued: “They are not friendly hard-done by hippies, they have been aggressive to both me and my daughter. They have stolen stock and illegally re-connected the electricity. They say they are only living in the commercial part of the property, not the flat upstairs, but we have seen them in there.”

A law change earlier this year meant that although squatters can no longer occupy residential properties, they can use commercial ones.

As a result, several pubs have been occupied by squatters including  the Cross Keys in Chelsea. Mr Ameri said the group often target pubs because so many are left empty.

“Yes we do often use pubs or bars, so many are closing all the time. Office blocks are hard to find and the owners often find it easier to take us to court so we have to move more often. This way is easier.”

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