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Aristocrat and farmer in row over cut grass

HE has a family history steeped in the whisky distilling industry and is the current heir to the Baron Forteviot title.

But The Hon Alexander Dewar has found himself in court after a row with a neighbouring farmer over a smashed padlock and the mowing of a field.

And Mr Dewar, a descendant of the man who set up John Dewar & Sons in 1846, has now been ordered to pay damages for ordering the unauthorised access to the field in Perthshire.

The full background to the bizarre legal row was aired at Perth Sheriff Court.

Farmer Alexander Simpson told the court he called Tayside Police after turning up at Tibbermore Church Glebe and discovering someone had entered the field and chopped the grass.

He told the small claims hearing: "The police said they had never had a case of someone lifting a gate, cutting a growing crop and taking it away.

"They weren't even sure it would be a criminal matter.

"The fact they had broken into a field and stolen a growing crop made it more difficult because it didn't seem to be covered by any legislation."

Mr Simpson said that when he approached the person who cut the grass he said he had been told to remove it by "whatever means necessary".

Mr Dewar admitted mistakenly ordering a worker to cut and bale the field, but claimed Mr Simpson was trying to exploit him with a "disproportionate" legal claim.

Mr Simpson, of Castle Farm, Methven, told the court one-third of the 1.93 acre field at Tibbermore Church Glebe was rented by him from its owners, the Church of Scotland.

He said he cut the grass twice a year to use for silage.

He added he was shocked to find a chain had been broken to gain entry and the entire field had been cut by Mr Dewar's contractor.

Mr Simpson lodged a claim for £685.40 in respect of the grass and the damage caused, and after evidence was led Mr Dewar was ordered to pay him £230.

Mr Simpson said: "On July 14, 2012, I sent a man with a tractor and mower to cut silage in the field known as Tibbermore Glebe which I rent from the Church of Scotland General Trustees.

"I became aware the gate had been lifted off its hinges and the silage had been cut and spread out. I informed Tayside Police and two officers attended."

He said that two days later he intercepted tractor driver Billy Fotheringham, who "informed me that he had been instructed by The Hon Alexander Dewar to take entry to my field by whatever means necessary and cut and remove my silage.

"I relayed this information to police officers, who contacted The Hon Alexander Dewar. He telephoned me and stated that he was under the impression my field belonged to him."

Mr Simpson said he had sent a bill to cover the cost of eight bales of grass, damage to the field and chain, and time spent with the police and his legal adviser.

Mr Dewar, who lives on the Dupplin Estate, said he had offered to let his neighbour cut the whole field and keep the grass next time around or take £100 cash as compensation.

He said: "I believe these to be generous alternatives to reflect my embarrassment and would more than compensate Mr Simpson for any loss.

"I was trying to let the paddock and the grass needed cut.

"I received a phone call from PC Stewart Woodhouse on July 16. This was the first time I realised my mistake." Both parties left court without comment.

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