Hidden castle case highlights the importance of complying with Court Orders

A High Court Judge has ruled that farmer Robert Fidler will be jailed should he fail to demolish his mock-Tudor castle by 6 June 2016.

Mr Fidler built his home in secret at some point between 1999 and 2006 without planning permission. During this time, the farmer erected hay bales all around the property hiding it from view. His reasoning being that should the building exist for a period of four years, he would be immune from enforcement action by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council under planning laws.

The hay bales were removed in 2006, revealing the completed castle and prompting the council to serve an enforcement notice on Mr Fidler requiring the property be demolished.

A legal battle ensued culminating in an injunction from the High Court in 2014, ordering Mr Fidler to demolish the property within 90 days.

Following Mr Fidler failure to demolish the property as per the injunction, the council made a further application for contempt of court.

Mr Justice Dove, sitting in the High Court on 9 November, agreed with the council application and found Mr Fidler in contempt of court, ruling that the farmer would be jailed for three months for his intentional defiance of the previous Order should he fail to demolish the property by 6 June next year.

Whilst it remains to be seen whether or not Mr Fidler intends to defy the Court any further, this ruling offers a clear warning to people who believe it is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to obtain permission.

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