Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
Earl of Cardigan acquitted of assault and criminal damage
8:18am Friday 25th January 2013 in News
The Earl of Cardigan has been acquitted of assaulting one of his family estate's trustees.
The Earl, whose family name is famed for its link to the Charge of the Light Brigade, was also found not guilty of a charge of criminal damage.
Salisbury Magistrates' Court heard the Earl, 60, was accused of assaulting John Moore by beating on April 29 last year - just over a week after he lost a legal row with Mr Moore over ancestral portraits at the 4,500-acre Savernake Estate, near Marlborough.
The Earl, who was named on court documents as David Brudenell-Bruce, also faced a charge of criminal damage after he threw a handful of debris at a Mitsubishi L200 driven by an estate employee on May 17.
But the magistrates said the Crown had not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt on both counts.
Leaving court the Earl said: "I am delighted and relieved, I wasn't looking for trouble on either incidents. On both occasions this happened on my own property and they came to me."
The court rejected Mr Moore's version of events, during which he described the Earl as being "like a man possessed".
Mr Moore, a barristers' clerk, alleged the Earl had used "vulgar" language towards him before spitting at him three times and finally throwing a handful of debris - containing gravel, leaves and dirt - through an open window of his Land Rover.
But the Earl told magistrates that it was Mr Moore who had followed him, stopping six times to make derogatory comments at him and his wife while they were walking in Savernake Forest.
Mike Pulsford, defending, accused Mr Moore of "embellishing" his evidence to discredit the Earl.
He said Mr Moore had been "goading" the defendant, who, after telling Mr Moore to go away on several occasions, eventually looked for another way to make him leave.
The Earl said he picked up a handful of wet leaves and dropped them into the footwell of Mr Moore's car to irritate him, but denied he had ever spat at Mr Moore.
Chairwoman of the Bench Dr Pauline Tremlett said: "There is no doubt there is a long-standing acrimonious relationship here."
She added: "But despite that, we cannot say the Crown has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt."
The court heard there was a disagreement between the Earl and Mr Moore after the Earl took him to the High Court last year and accused him of selling off portraits without his knowledge.
The estate was left in the hands of two trustees, Mr Moore and Wilson Cotton, when the Earl went to America, but on his return he found that about 40 paintings - thought to be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds in total - had gone.
The Earl claimed that he was entitled to "use of the paintings" under the terms of a lease and wanted to stop estate trustees selling them.
But the estate trustees disputed his claim and said the paintings were not part of the lease.
A High Court judge ruled against the Earl, concluding that the paintings were "held by the trustees".