Lord Cardigan is to face trail in the new year after pleading not guilty to charges of theft and criminal damage.

The 59-year-old Earl denied stealing a battery and power unit belonging to Peter Tilley on Saturday June 23, when he appeared at Swindon Crown Court on Friday.

He also pleaded not guilty to an allegation that he damaged six pheasant drinkers between Monday June 4 and Friday June 29.

Each of the pheasant drinkers is said to be worth £11 and the battery and power unit is thought to be worth £80.

Mr Tilley works as a gamekeeper on Cardigan's 4,500 Savernake Forest estate, which is where both alleged offences are said to have taken place.

The sun-tanned old-Etonian, who appeared under the name David Brudenell-Bruce, wore a charcoal suit, white shirt and red tie for the brief appearance.

He had missed the earlier hearing after being stranded in Arizona as Superstorm Sandy led to his flight home being cancelled.

His solicitor said he had been on the other side of the Atlantic seeing his second wife, Joanna Hill, who had been unwell.

Judge Douglas Field adjourned the case to Tuesday January 29, when a trial is due to be held.

He released Cardigan, of Savernake Lodge, near Marlborough, on condition he does not have contact with four named people or go within 50 metres of their homes.

A condition that he does not contact John Moore was lifted as the 66-year-old barrister's clerk is a trustee to the estate with whom the Earl is involved in civil proceedings.