Jailed farmer to launch campaign

JAILED farmer Tony Martin is determined to launch a campaign to protect householders who defend themselves against intruders, and another to prevent burglars getting legal aid to sue for compensation if they are injured during a break-in, his MP has said.

JAILED farmer Tony Martin is determined to launch a campaign to protect householders who defend themselves against intruders, and another to prevent burglars getting legal aid to sue for compensation if they are injured during a break-in, his MP has said.

North West Norfolk Tory MP Henry Bellingham met his constituent at Highpoint Prison, Suffolk, to discuss how to bring about changes to the law yesterday .

Martin, 58, is due to leave prison on July 28, having served two-thirds of his sentence for the manslaughter of 16-year-old Fred Barras who was shot during a burglary at Martin's isolated farmhouse.

Burglar Brendon Fearon, who was wounded in the 1999 raid on Martin's home in Emneth Hungate, is currently suing the farmer for about £15,000 compensation for his injuries.


You may also want to watch:


Fearon and Barras had travelled from their homes in Newark, Nottinghamshire, to break into Martin's isolated and run-down farmhouse.

Martin was originally jailed for life after being convicted of murder in April 2000, but the Court of Appeal later reduced the conviction to manslaughter and cut the sentence to five years.

Most Read

Mr Bellingham said after meeting Martin at the prison: "We are totally at one on this.

"He feels very strongly there should be a campaign first of all to get legal aid changed, whereby burglars and intruders can't get legal aid to sue for damages against householders whose houses they broke in to.

"The second campaign relates to the rights of householders.

"We feel we need a new test - it would be a subjective test relating to what the householder believed was reasonable force to use at the time, if they thought it was reasonable.

"We feel the law is being weighed against the householder and there is a presumption against the householder so we want a reasonable force test."

Martin's case opened up a national debate about the right of householders to protect their property.

Mr Bellingham said Martin, who asked for the meeting with the MP, had said he was worried about security arrangements at his farm when he was released.

It is no secret that police have concerns for Martin's safety - it was said at his trial that there had been death threats against him.

Mr Bellingham said: "The police feel strongly he deserves the protection that's being discussed and it's vital the threats are taken seriously.

"But resources are scare in Norfolk. I feel strongly that Norfolk Police will provide suitable coverage for him which I'm confident they will do.'

Mr Bellingham said discussions were taking place with the prison service about moving Martin to another jail before his release because of the media attention it would attract.

He said: "There has been speculation about that which is understandable. But I can't confirm it because no formal decision has been taken. Tony Martin is involved in the discussions with the prison authorities about the mechanics of his release.'

Martin's leading supporter, businessman Malcolm Starr, said the farmer did not want to be relocated to another jail.

He said: "There's no way he's going to accept being taken to another prison at this late stage. Mr Martin said he had been in five prisons and not at this late stage was he going to be moved. He would defy this because it's disruptive.

"Within half an hour people would know he's been moved and within 45 minutes they would know his new location, so what's the point?'

Mr Starr, who attended the meeting between Martin and the MP, said the farmer was disappointed that Prime Minister Tony Blair and Home Secretary David Blunkett had not criticised the fact that burglars could get legal aid to sue for damages following a break-in.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter