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Wednesday, 24 November, 1999, 23:55 GMT
Sark agrees sex equality



The tiny self-governing British island of Sark, in the English Channel, has agreed to change its four-hundred-year-old inheritance laws to give equal rights to women.

The near-unanimous vote by the island's ruling body called the Chief Pleas follows a challenge in the European Court of Human Rights from the multi-millionaire Barclay Brothers, who live on a neighbouring island Brequou.

The two brothers, who own the famous Ritz Hotel in London and the Scotsman newspaper, wanted to scrap the law that land could only be handed down to the eldest born son, so that they could divide their castle between all four of their children. A BBC correspondent says the surrender to modern demands for sex equality is likely to lead to other sweeping reforms of the way the feudal island is run, including the legalisation of divorce.

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