MP to meet jailed farmer

A Conservative MP will meet jailed farmer Tony Martin today to discuss a campaign to prevent burglars getting legal aid to sue for compensation if they are injured during the course of a break-in.

MP TO MEET JAILED FARMER OVER BURGLARS' LEGAL AID

By Brian Farmer, PA News

A Conservative MP will meet jailed farmer Tony Martin today to discuss a campaign to prevent burglars getting legal aid to sue for compensation if they are injured during the course of a break-in.

Henry Bellingham is to visit Martin at Highpoint Prison near Haverhill to discuss ways in which pressure for a law change could be bought to bear.


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The move comes as Brendan Fearon, one of the burglars shot by Martin during a raid on the farmer's home in Emneth Hungate, Norfolk, in 1999, continues attempts to win about £15,000 compensation.

Martin, 58, is due to leave prison on July 28, having served two-thirds of his sentence for the manslaughter of Fearon's teenage accomplice.

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The unmarried farmer shot dead Fred Barras, 16, and wounded Fearon in the thigh, after the thieves travelled from their homes in Newark, Notts, and broke into Martin's isolated and run-down farmhouse.

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

Mr Bellingham, Martin's local MP, said the farmer had asked to meet him to discuss a number of issues.

"He requested it. He wants to discuss a number of issues," said Mr Bellingham.

"He is planning to launch a campaign to get the law changed so that burglars cannot get legal aid to sue householders in these situations. I am going to help him to that. We need a new principle in English law which basically says the burglar leaves his rights at the gate of the property he is breaking into.

"I also feel that the Law Commission needs to look at the whole issue of what rights the householder has when protecting his property. Because people seem to be confused.

"These are issues that have been mentioned while Tony has been in prison but I think they will come much more into focus when he is released.'

Mr Bellingham said he expected Martin to be moved to another jail prior to his release because of the media interest the event would attract.

Martin's friends say the farmer is still planning to return to his dilapidated farmhouse after he leaves prison.

Malcolm Starr, who has led the campaign for Martin's release, said: "I don't expect him to go there immediately but I expect him to return after a very short while. He is very insistent that he wants to go. He says he has got every right to go home the same as everyone else. He has been inundated with offers to help him with the house but he has refused them. He is very independent and wants to do it all himself.''

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