No further action over charges of battery theft and causing criminal damage

This Is Wiltshire: The Earl of Cardigan arrives at Swindon Crown Court today The Earl of Cardigan arrives at Swindon Crown Court today

The Earl of Cardigan, who was charged with causing criminal damage and theft on his family estate near Marlborough, has agreed to be bound over to keep the peace.

The Earl, 60, who appeared at Swindon Crown Court today under his full name of David Michael James Brudenell-Bruce, was accused of damaging six pheasant feeders worth £66 and the theft of a battery and electrical power unit worth £80 on the Savernake Estate.

He had been due to stand trial after denying the two charges but agreed to be bound over for 12 months in the sum of £200.

Claire Marlow, prosecuting, told the court: "This defendant is in dispute with the trustees of the Savernake Estate and there are now proceedings in the Chancery Court between this defendant and the trustees.

"These offences are generally of a nuisance and aimed at disrupting the workings of the trustees and the estate.

"They are minor in nature and the defendant agrees to be bound over to stop him behaving like this in the future and to stop him interfering with the employees and the estate."

Mike Pulsford, defending, said the Earl was maintaining his innocence but agreed to be bound over.

"My client had entered not guilty pleas and he maintains those pleas," he said.

"There is a Chancery Court application by my client to remove the two trustees from the Savernake Estate."

Mr Pulsford told the court that the Earl is unemployed and has been receiving Jobseeker's Allowance.

"He is not working. One of his claims against the trustees is that they have withheld certain monies from him," he said.

"He has been claming Jobseeker's Allowance and that has, of course, caused him financial difficulty."

Judge Douglas Field told the Earl: "I am going to bind you over in the sum of £200 for the next 12 months.

"If you comply with these terms you will hear nothing more of this. If you don't comply with these terms you might be liable to pay all or some of the money.

"This brings an end to these proceedings and I think it is a sensible outcome."

The Earl, of Savernake Lodge, Savernake, had denied damaging six pheasant feeders worth £66 and belonging to gamekeeper Peter Tilley on a date between June 4 and June 29 last year, and the theft of a battery and electrical power unit worth £80, also belonging to Mr Tilley on June 23.

There has been a long-running dispute between the Earl and John Moore, one of the trustees of the 4,500-acre Savernake Estate.

The earl went to the High Court last year, accusing the trustees of selling off portraits without his knowledge.

A judge ruled against the Earl, concluding that the paintings were "held by the trustees".

Last week, the Earl, whose daughter Catherine is pop singer Bo Bruce, was acquitted by magistrates of assaulting Mr Moore.

He was accused of assault by beating on April 29 last year - just over a week after he lost the High Court case.

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.

Speaking outside court today, the Earl, who was accompanied by his second wife, Joanne, and her mother, said this case was the 14th set of allegations made against him during his long-running dispute.

"Most of them have been dismissed by the police as being too absurd," he said.

"The battery I am accused of stealing is still sitting at the bottom of my garden, exactly where it was when this case started.

"For nine months the world's press have said I am a used battery thief.

"This is the most stupid charge, of many stupid charges, the police and Crown Prosecution Service have brought against me.

"The charges should never have been brought in the first place. What would I want with a used car battery that doesn't even fit in my car?

"The gamekeeper had removed all the good pheasant feeders and left only the broken ones. Those are the ones I was accused of breaking further."

The Earl said the proceedings in the Chancery Court were about removing Mr Moore, a barrister's clerk, as a trustee.

"I will not rest until I have removed him from his position," said the Earl.

"Even if it takes me the rest of my life, that man will go."

The Savernake Estate, which includes Britain's only privately owned forest, has been in the Earl's family for almost 1,000 years, and one of his predecessors in the title led the Charge of the Light Brigade.

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