Farm family loses squatting claim

Mark Brown msbrown at
Wed Feb 7 20:35:55 GMT 2001

Farm family loses squatting claim

Wednesday February 7, 2001
The Guardian

A farming family lost their claim to 57 acres of potential development land
Caroline Graham and her father Charles Denton had won a ruling in the high
court last year that the land, which could be worth millions of pounds, was
theirs because a property development company had not evicted them for 12
years while they farmed it.

But yesterday the court of appeal overturned the ruling because the farmers
had never shown an intention to dispossess the property company and claim
squatters' rights.

Lord Justice Mummery said there was "credible and uncontradicted evidence
from the squatters' themselves" that they did not intend to possess but
hoped to reach an agreement to use the land.

The company, JA Pye (Oxford) Ltd, had taken no steps to evict the family
from the land next to their farm, Henwick Manor, Thatcham, near Newbury,
Berkshire, from 1984 while they negotiated with planners to build houses

In the high court Mr Justice Neuberger granted permission for the company to
take the case to the court of appeal.

JA Pye bought the manor and land in 1975 but sold most of it two years
later, keeping the disputed acres because of the development potential.

In 1982, John Graham bought the farm at auction for his son, Michael, who
married Caroline in 1987, and farmed it until the son died in 1998.

The company had granted grazing rights to the family but correspondence
ceased in 1985 and the Grahams continued to use it without permission.

Kim Lewison QC, representing the farmers, was refused permission to take the
case to the Lords. JA Pye is not claiming legal costs for the appeal but the
farmers face high court costs estimated at £200,000.

Press Association

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