Council considers legal appeal
A LOCAL authority could still appeal against a judge's decision to stop a former Suffolk County Council chief standing trial for alleged unauthorised alterations to his former �2.
A LOCAL authority could still appeal against a judge's decision to stop a former Suffolk County Council chief standing trial for alleged unauthorised alterations to his former �2.7million home.
Last night Ray Herring, leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council, said he was “surprised and disappointed” by the ruling at Ipswich Crown Court.
Colin Barrow, now leader of Westminster City Council, faced criminal proceedings after the district council brought nine charges of affecting the architectural or historical interest of the Grade II* listed Darsham House, near Yoxford.
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But at the end of last week Judge David Goodin ruled the action was an abuse of process and threw the case out.
Last night, Mr Herring said: “I am surprised and disappointed that the judge did not allow us to proceed with our prosecution.
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“We are still considering with our legal advisors whether the council should appeal to the High Court over the decision.
“We only proceeded with this case after lengthy investigations and advice from specialist Counsel, which led councillors to conclude there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the three people believed to be responsible, and that it was in the public interest to do so.
“In the strongest possible terms, I can refute any accusation that this council took the case to court because it involved a high-profile individual.”
Ivan Jowers, chairman of Suffolk Coastal's Development Control Committee, which made the decision to proceed with the prosecution, said the council will be writing to the Government asking for an urgent review of the laws regarding such prosecutions because they felt “badly let down” by the legal system.
Speaking after the ruling on Friday, Mr Barrow, 57, the former deputy leader of the Conservatives at Suffolk County Council, said the case was a hunt for a high-profile scalp.
“The council wanted to show they are prepared to go after someone who has a high profile,” he said. “But I was determined to fight it and I don't mind if they have got a bloody nose.”
Mr Barrow bought Darsham House in 2004 and carried out an extensive renovation project on the 18-bedroom 17th century mansion.
The district council claimed listed building regulations had been breached and in March this year issued the enforcement notices on the mansion.
But Judge Goodin ruled eight of the offences should be dealt with by enforcement notices, not court action and judged Mr Barrow, his ex-wife Angelica Barrow and project manager Elizabeth Wilson-Smith had no case to answer.