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The masked black-clad squad swooped from the roof of Bloomsbury House to block the windows and prevent occupiers reaching the roof balconies as bailiffs entered through the front door.

Yesterday’s dramatic dawn scenes in central London reminded onlookers of how SAS heroes ended the siege of the nearby Iranian Embassy in 1980.

The band of ex-military and emergency services experts work for Specialist Group International.

The Dorking-based firm is used to remove protesters, often from confined situations such as oil rigs and tunnels.

With £3million of gear including helicopter, specialist transport the outfit is run by Peter Faulding, 59, who said the operation had gone “safely”.

The Parachute Regiment veteran, from Sussex, said his group’s operations focus on respectful removals – but bailiffs found the landmark property had been “trashed”.

Mr Faulding added: “We’ve always built a good relationship with protesters. In all the incidents we’ve dealt with we’ve never had an accident or aggression.

“These people in this building were squatters, so it was a different approach, but despite it being a ‘raid’ we try to be kind and respectful. It probably looked a bit like the siege. But like anything military, it’s all about safety.”