Bailiffs trying to evict cancer-stricken father over mortgage dispute are forced to retreat after 500 strangers form human blockade around his bungalow
- Bailiffs have been trying to evict Tom Crawford, 63, for six months
- They claim he owes £43,000 in outstanding mortgage repayments
- 500 strangers provided a human blockade around his bungalow
- Bailiffs were forced to retreat by the strength of people power
- Mr Crawford has said he would 'rather die' than leave his home
This is the moment when bailiffs trying to evict a cancer-stricken father were forced to retreat after 500 strangers formed a human blockade around his bungalow.
Tom Crawford, 63, has been battling the bailiffs over claims he still owes £43,000 in outstanding mortgage repayments.
Last July more than 300 strangers successfully stopped enforcers from turning up at his three-bedroom home in Carlton, Nottinghamshire, after he begged for help on YouTube.
And today - exactly six months after the first eviction attempt - they were forced to abandon plans to turf him out of his home where he has lived for 27 years.
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People power: 500 strangers turn up at the home of cancer-stricken Tom Crawford to stop bailiffs evicting him from his home
Bailiffs were greeted by a sea of people after serving their second eviction notice on Mr Crawford and his wife, Sue
It follows bailiffs serving a second eviction notice on Mr Crawford last week which ordered him to vacate his property by 10.30am today.
Supporters, many donning the grandfather-of-two's trademark straw hat with the words 'I am Tom Crawford' written across it, began congregating in the road before 7am.
A white transit van and black Mercedes containing bailiffs arrived at 11am but were unable to reach the bungalow.
After a brief stand-off, the bailiffs retreated, to cheers from the 500-strong crowd who had travelled from across the country to support the Crawford family.
Mr Crawford, who retired from fitting carpets due to ill health two years ago, said: 'I am humbled by all the people here.
Tom Crawford, pictured outside his bungalow, had been ordered to be out of his home by 10.30am today
'There are not enough words in the English Dictionary for how I feel. There were about 350 people here last time and I think there may be more now.
'All I did was make a little video about what was happening to us and people supported it, but then they came banging on my door again seven days ago.
'They threatened my wife and we told the police but they won't do anything.
The strangers provided a human shield around the bungalow to stop the bailiffs from getting to it
'The bailiffs didn't turn up during the last protest, so you could say they bottled it.
'What they are doing is totally unlawful, so we want the bailiffs to come so we can arrest them.
'The solicitors haven't even paid a fee to start all this stuff off. There is no order for a warrant because no judge will put his name to it.
'The bailiffs follow what they are told by the court, and the court follow what the solicitors say, and the solicitors follow what the bank is doing.
Mr Crawford, who is battling prostate cancer, has said that he would 'rather die' than leave his home
Surrounded: One of the cars carrying the bailiffs was held back from the Crawfords' home of 27 years
'We moved in to this house in 1988 and we have paid three times the value of the house.
'We have probably put £125,000 towards this place or something like that, I have never worked it out exactly, but why do they want more?
'There is no money left so banks are going after property because they know property is a tangible asset.
'For my wife, Sue, to get woken up at 5am by a bailiff banging on the door shouting at her is wrong.
Many of the protesters filmed and photographed the bailiffs as they arrived at the property in two separate vehicles
Mr Crawford said: 'There are not enough words in the English Dictionary for how I feel'
Supporters donned 'I am Tom Crawford' hats as they surrounded his home to keep bailiffs out
'The bailiffs have just come along but won't show us the documents. There were huge guys inside the vans and we don't get people like that round here.'
UK Asset Resolution Limited confirmed they would now be seeking legal advice.
But Mr Crawford, who has prostate cancer, declared he would 'rather die' than move from his home.
He said: 'I will never leave my home. I know I am in the right. I would rather die than leave.'
He and his wife Susan, 54, took out an endowment mortgage with the now defunct Bradford and Bingley to buy the bungalow for £41,800 in 1988.
The strangers turned up at Mr Crawford's home after he posted a video on YouTube explaining his situation online
Mr Crawford's court battle centres around an endowment mortgage with the now defunct Bradford and Bingley to buy the bungalow for £41,800 in 1988
The sea of people that bailiffs were faced with as they arrived at Mr Crawford's home in Nottinghamshire
A member of the bailiff removal team, who was forced to retreat from Mr Crawford's home
He and Susan, who works in market research, paid £300-£400 in monthly mortgage repayments and expected to own the property when the mortgage came to an end in 2013.
But he claims the bank told him 2007 that he would never pay off his mortgage because there was no record of him taking out the endowment mortgage.
He then says a bank manager assured him this was incorrect and even sent his wife champagne to apologise for the blunder.
But soon he was embroiled in a court battle over the mortgage, which he says the bank converted into an interest only loan without his knowledge.
Bradford and Bingley was nationalised in 2008 during the financial crisis with the main banking section being sold to Abbey National while existing mortgages remained in public control.
Mr Crawford, pictured among the crowds outside his home, wearing his trademark straw hat
The bungalow is the home to Mr Crawford and his wife, Sue, that is at the centre of the row
Mr Crawford's daughter, Amanda Pike, being hugged by a fellow protester as they bailiffs retreat
One supporter said: 'What has happened to Tom is a complete injustice,' as they hung a banner from a car
Supporters, who have made t-shirts and banners, said that Mr Crawford has done 'nothing wrong'
Mortgages are now collected by UK Asset Resolution Limited which was set up by the Government.
The Crawfords have three grown-up children, daughters Amanda Pike, 35, and Nicol Crawford, 34, and son Craig, 30, who works in internet marketing.
'Having all these people here is amazing,' said daughter Amanda Pike.
'It's just scary that a judge won't listen so what else can we do? We will keep fighting.
'My mum and dad have paid for this house and that's the end of it. They have the proof.'
Supporters travelled from across the country to support the family after viewing Mr Crawford's latest video outlining his situation on YouTube.
Luke Smith, 25, a chef from Leicester, said: 'The recession has crippled so many people and they are taking it out on everyone.
Strangers revealed they had travelled hundreds of miles to support Mr Crawford after learning of his plight
Protesters set up a make-shift camp outside the Nottinghamshire bungalow to make sure that the bailiffs did not return
'In the long run I want to see a lot of change. I think the bailiffs might come back tomorrow when we are all gone.'
Eric Banner, 30, who lives in the Sherwood area of Nottingham and works for a catering firm, said: 'What has happened to Tom is a complete injustice.
'He is a nice old bloke who pays his bills and has done nothing wrong, so we are all sending a message to the bailiffs that we are 'the force', not them.'
Frank O'Neill, 51, travelled 120 miles from Liverpool, and slept in a van overnight to make sure he was at the protest.
The protesters, who started gathering at 7am, fear that the bailiffs may return tomorrow when they have gone
A police spokesman said that it remained a 'civil matter' and it was in 'the hands of the bailiffs'
Some of the protesters who congregated in the sleepy street in Nottinghamshire wore masks
'My friend and I got here and slept in our van in a pub car park,' he said
'We brought a stove so have been making mugs of tea for people.
'It took three hours to get here, so we are fighting the bankers. We will go home again after this finishes but we were right to come and represent Tom Crawford.'
Tim Fleming, 69, is a charity worker who travelled up from Twickenham in London this morning, said: 'It took me three hours to get up here this morning, and then I had organised to meet about 20 people when I got here.
Mr Crawford's daughter said the support the family had received was 'amazing.' Pictured: Mr Crawford outside the bungalow
'It is important to come and support Tom because it could be me tomorrow.
'People are wishing up but we need to educate them about it. We won't be beaten, we have no fear.'
A spokesperson from Nottinghamshire Police said: 'This remains a civil matter. We will attend to ensure there is no breach of the peace but it is in the hands of the bailiffs.'
UK Asset Resolution Limited (UKAR) confirmed the eviction was called off due to 'safety concerns'.
A spokesman said: 'Repossession is always viewed as a last resort and follows a series of forbearance options, with the aim of finding a solution that takes account of the customer's specific circumstances.
'Regrettably, in this instance, we have been unable to find a solution.
'Bradford & Bingley has followed proper legal procedures and is now legally entitled to take possession of this property following the ruling by the Court and the Judge.
'We have a valid possession order that is enforceable.
'The eviction today has been called off on the advice of the police due to safety concerns.
'We will now discuss this matter with our legal advisors and the Court to determine the most appropriate next step.'