Saga over family farm feud could be over following court ruling

Saga over family farm feud could be over following court ruling

BITTER DISPUTE: Anthony (left) and Paul Shepherd at another court hearing

COURT VICTORY: Christopher Shepherd

LEGAL WRANGLE: West Musgrave Farm

First published in News
Last updated

A JUDGE has delivered a scathing assessment of a legal wrangle over a family farm – and potentially given the green light to a huge new housing development on the site.

Christopher Shepherd, along with his sister Joanne Long, had sought possession of the 65 acre West Musgrave Farm, in St Helen Auckland, County Durham, in a civil claim heard at Newcastle County Court.

However the claim was disputed by his brother Paul Shepherd who said he had been granted a 40 year farm business tenancy by Christopher in January 2001 and was entitled to possession having been a sitting tenant.

Judge Roger Kaye, who heard the case, said his judgement the tenancy was not genuine and “did not truly exist”.

He also blasted the amount of time spent on the proceedings saying the litigants had repeatedly failed to abide by the rules or orders of the court.

In his ruling he described Paul, who was joined by another brother Anthony Raymond in defending the claim, as “evasive and his evidence largely unreliable”.

The judge said: “Paul has no right to remain on any part of the property. He is simply a trespasser.”

Christopher and Joanne, who were given the farm by their late parents, could now pocket more than £4m between them should they agree a deal to sell the land to developer Tindale, which has been awaiting a decision over possession.

It is thought up to 600 houses could be built on the land should planning permission be secured.

Tindale is also undertaking to clean-up the site, which adjoins Louisa Terrace and has been described by local residents as a “blot on the landscape”.

The case turned on the existence of the tenancy agreement which the claimants contended was “cobbled together” from photocopies of another tenancy Christopher had granted relating to land in Cumbria.

Despite requests from the court to see original document, it was never produced. Christopher and Joanne also denied any agreement had been entered into.

Kevin Graham, chairman of St Helen’s Residents Association, said: “The farm has been a thorn in our side for a long time. There has been the smell and trucks coming in all day and night. People were despairing.

“Now there has been some movement hopefully they can get on with doing something about the land itself.”

Last year Paul, who lived in the farmhouse until it was demolished, and Anthony Shepherd, who previously ran Darlington firm Albert Hill Skip Hire, were convicted of offences linked to the unlawful dumping of waste.

They previously declined to comment when approached by The Northern Echo and are thought to be considering an appeal.

A spokesman for Tindale said: “We are delighted that the issue over this tenancy agreement has finally been dealt with by the courts.”

Comments (5)

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6:48pm Mon 1 Sep 14

vauxhall007 says...

I would like to think if Paul and Anthony Shepherd lodge an appeal, to further waste court time and money, that they shoild me made to produce the ORIGINAL TENANCY that they claim exists.

Failure to produce this document should be taken as it does not exist, in an original form, therefore Paul and Anthony Shepherd are trying to obtain the farm by deception which should have a "custodial sentence".
I would like to think if Paul and Anthony Shepherd lodge an appeal, to further waste court time and money, that they shoild me made to produce the ORIGINAL TENANCY that they claim exists. Failure to produce this document should be taken as it does not exist, in an original form, therefore Paul and Anthony Shepherd are trying to obtain the farm by deception which should have a "custodial sentence". vauxhall007
  • Score: 18

1:12pm Wed 3 Sep 14

calumannabel says...

But of course they have appealed yet again. Ironically they manage to pay barristers to represent them yet obtained thousands in legal aid for their trials last year. Rabbit away somewhere. This is the sort of ride supergrasses get in the UK not of course that I'm suggesting for one minute...
But of course they have appealed yet again. Ironically they manage to pay barristers to represent them yet obtained thousands in legal aid for their trials last year. Rabbit away somewhere. This is the sort of ride supergrasses get in the UK not of course that I'm suggesting for one minute... calumannabel
  • Score: 0

5:01pm Wed 3 Sep 14

vauxhall007 says...

It is now down to Christopher Shepherd and his sister Joanne Elizabeth Long to either decide to sell the land and allow a Developer to clean up the mess their brothers and nephews left or they take a grasp and clean the farm up, to give the residents some peace.

I am surprised some of the people in the vicinity who are trying to sell their houses have not tried to sue the Shepherds for losses incurred due to the state of the farm which is preventing potential house buyers from going anywhere near the farm to buy a house
It is now down to Christopher Shepherd and his sister Joanne Elizabeth Long to either decide to sell the land and allow a Developer to clean up the mess their brothers and nephews left or they take a grasp and clean the farm up, to give the residents some peace. I am surprised some of the people in the vicinity who are trying to sell their houses have not tried to sue the Shepherds for losses incurred due to the state of the farm which is preventing potential house buyers from going anywhere near the farm to buy a house vauxhall007
  • Score: 4

10:22pm Wed 3 Sep 14

lindybop says...

The residents are over the moon at the outcome of this farm. They have put up with this for 10 or more years. And hope this is the end of this farm.
The residents are over the moon at the outcome of this farm. They have put up with this for 10 or more years. And hope this is the end of this farm. lindybop
  • Score: 2

4:33pm Tue 30 Sep 14

lindybop says...

The quicker this is sorted the better. Residents cant sleep as the horses are getting out in the early hours of the morning. The people are sick they have put up with this far to long
The quicker this is sorted the better. Residents cant sleep as the horses are getting out in the early hours of the morning. The people are sick they have put up with this far to long lindybop
  • Score: 1

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