Lord Cardigan cleared of public order offences
Lord Cardigan has had his name cleared after a court found him not guilty of launching a tirade of abuse at an estate worker in a supermarket.
Prue Chetwynd-Talbot said the 63-year-old was ‘menacing’ when he confronted her in the fruit and veg department of Waitrose in Marlborough.
And she said as she was leaving the store he repeated the abuse as he pointed at her in front of Saturday shoppers in April 2013.
But the Earl, who lives at nearby Savernake Lodge, insists the first incident never took place and in the second he was talking to a friend.
Now a judge sitting with two magistrates at Swindon Crown Court has overturned his conviction for a public order offence.
Recorder Stephen Hall said "We are not sure the case is made out. Accordingly we allow the appeal."
Speaking after the case Lord Cardigan said "The ordeal of the 17 trials is at an end. The nightmare is over. I just pray to God this is finally the end of it now.
"There have been 17 charges brought against me by trustees and their employees and there are now 17 acquittals. At one point I had two in one week."
At the time he was involved in a bitter dispute with the trustees of the Savernake Estate over the future of former family seat Tottenham House.
Miss Chetwynd-Talbot was living in the Grade One listed 100 room stately pile as resident caretaker at the time of the incident.
She told the court she was choosing bananas in the store on the High Street when she bumped into the Lord Cardigan.
“He looked at me and said ‘Oh, yuk, bitch’. He was looking right at me,” she told the court.
“As to his actual demeanour: his eyes were just looking at me saying these things. I was hearing them and I was horrified.
“It wasn’t shouted, there was nobody else around. It was just spoken, the way I’m talking to you.”
Asked how he spoke, she replied his voice was ‘menacing’ saying she then just looked down as she ‘wanted to get as far away as possible’.
She said she was then leaving the store when he pointed at her and said ‘Bitch, Prue, bitch,’ at her in a ‘mocking’ voice from about 20ft away.
“I put my head down and walked out as fast as I could. I felt absolutely dreadful. I felt embarrassed. I felt so ashamed that I had been shouted at in front of other people and I was shaky.”
Edward Henry, for Cardigan, put to her that the incident hadn’t happened and in the second he was having a private conversation with fiend David Bloom.
He said he was pointing her out after she had accosted him on the estate when the men were out blackberry picking with Lady Cardigan and Mr Bloom's two children.
Mr Henry put to her she had yelled ‘Cardigan, Cardigan, what the bloody hell are you doing here?’ when she saw the group, which she denied.
She said she hadn’t realised the old Etonian was in the group of fruit pickers but did recall Mr Bloom telling her ‘It’s Lord Cardigan to you?’
Mr Henry also asked her why it took her more than a week to report it to the police.
She said “I thought about it over a couple of days and I thought it upset me that much I was going to make a report to the police about it.”
Miss Chetwynd-Talbot told the court ‘the man terrifies me’ adding ‘Cardigan knows he intimidates me, he knows I am frightened of him’.
Lord Cardigan told the court the prosecution was part of a campaign against him by John Moore, the trustee of the estate he was in the throws of getting removed.
“Mr Moore and his three employees, one of whom is Prue Chetwynd-Talbot, formulated a plan to discredit me in the forthcoming High Court action by getting me convicted of something, anything," he said.
“In the course of the next nine months 17, seventeen, different prosecutions were brought by these three people. Every single one crashed and burned.”
On the day in Waitrose he said he was with friend Mr Bloom and pointed out Miss Chetwynd-Talbot as it was the first time he had seen her since the blackberry incident.
“I was just telling Mr Bloom there is the woman who behaved so badly, yes I probably did use the word bitch, and offended your children. On my property.
“I was standing close to Mr Bloom saying ‘There’s that bitch that behaved so badly that day’. Of course I pointed as I had to point her out to him.”
After the hearing, Lord Cardigan told Marlborough.News: "It would be an understatement to say that I am relieved that this nonsense would now finally appear to be over, with all 17 attempts - orchestrated by my own Trustees - having now failed."