TELEVISION presenter Richard Madeley has said he sympathises with squatters who move into empty offices.
The 56-year-old former This Morning host is making a comeback, meeting squatters for a new ITV1 documentary.
He said: “I have some sympathy for squatters who move into empty office blocks, derelict pubs, abandoned factories.
“Sometimes the owners have no immediate plans for the sites. And often they are barely aware they own them – they’re just entries on a balance sheet lodged in a commercial bank in, say, Dubai.”
Madeley said the squatters he met in commercial properties would not be affected by a new law which makes squatting in residential buildings a criminal offence.
He acknowledged the “nightmare endured by neighbours of a burnt-out pub” in north-east London which has been squatted in by up to 12 itinerant Lithuanian labourers for five years.
However, he said: “Squatters are a mixed tribe.
“Some, proud anarchists and anti-capitalists; others, lost souls drifting through broken lives – alcoholics, druggies, eco- warriors.”
But he described all squatters as people who were seeking a sense of “personal freedom and independence”.
He added: “And you know what? I thought there was something quintessentially British about that.”