Last stand comes to an end for Alamo Stan

A PENSIONER who barricaded himself into his demolition-threatened flat for five months has finally been evicted - after thinking he was answering the door to the postman.

Sixty-nine-year-old Stanley Lawson inadvertently let sheriff officers into his Muirhouse home after being taken by surprise by an early morning knock on the door.

Mr Lawson - who was born in the flat he refused to leave - said he had been napping on the couch when the fateful moment came.

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When he answered the door at 9am yesterday, he found himself confronted by sheriff officers with a police escort.

The retired meals-on-wheels driver, who was once presented with a bravery award by Lothian and Borders Police, has been involved in a stand-off with the council for five months.

The local authority wants to move him out so they can complete the demolition of 300 flats to make way for a new school.

After trying to film the officials in action with a video camera yesterday, Mr Lawson refused to recognise the eviction order. He was arrested and charged with breach of the peace.

Today, Mr Lawson said: "I'd been sleeping on my settee in the living room when I heard a knock at the door.

"I thought it was the postie and opened it, which was a mistake I'll regret for the rest of my life.

"There were three sheriff officers standing there along with three police officers and a police dog. They said they were taking possession of my flat and put a foot in the door.

"I was nose-to-nose with a sheriff officer and told them I wouldn't leave. I asked if I could phone my daughter then I tried to film them with my camera.

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"I was arrested and marched out to the paddy wagon and taken to the station. I refused to give my fingerprints and have my photograph taken because they had no right to take me prisoner for defending my home."

Mr Lawson was taken to Drylaw police station while council workers began to empty and secure his ground floor flat. The 69-year-old, a former Territorial Army soldier, is refusing a council offer of a home in Drylaw.

His daughter, Jennifer Stanley, 36, of West Pilton Street, is putting him up until he makes longer term arrangements. Mr Lawson, who said he would continue his struggle to save the flats despite being evicted, had daubed the outside of his home with messages such as "The Citizen's Republic of Pennywell", "No Surrender" and "Remember the Alamo".

He said: "I'm not going to give up the fight. They caught me on the hop when I was still half-asleep, but I've succeeded in highlighting this issue."

Another resident father-of-three Colin Gordon has barricaded himself into his flat in Pennywell Place and has not been moved.

The 39-year-old beefed up defences at the ground-floor flat to deter council officials. He draped razor wire across the garden and installed four-foot spikes in the back lawn.

Around 300 flats and houses in Pennywell will be bulldozed to clear space for a replacement for Craigroyston High School.

A police spokeswoman said: "A 69-year-old man was arrested for a breach of the peace."

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City housing leader Sheila Gilmore said: "We have attempted to engage Mr Lawson in discussions.

It is unfortunate that despite our best attempts, Mr Lawson has rejected all offers of housing made to him."

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