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Monday, 16 October, 2000, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
Farmer ends manure protest
David Cannon outside court
David Cannon said he had "no regrets"
A farmer who repeatedly sprayed a bank with manure during a decade-long dispute has called off his protest.

David Cannon's decision comes after his disagreement with NatWest ended with the bank agreeing to pay more than 300,000 in an out-of-court settlement.

Manure protest
The protests were attention-grabbing
He made the announcement as he walked free from court in Bedlington, Northumberland. Magistrates suspended a 60-day jail sentence for a year following his most recent confrontation with the bank.

Mr Cannon, 71, carried out a series of manure raids on NatWest's Ponteland and Newcastle upon Tyne branches after accusing the bank of making unauthorised cash transfers from his account and ruining his livestock business.

He said despite ending the protests he remained bitter at the way he had been treated.

"The protest is over, I guess, but all the money on the planet will not put it right.

"It has taken 10-and-a-half years to get them to stand up to what they have done.

David Cannon
Mr Cannon has been protesting for 10 years
"I have no regrets and I would do the same again, but my wife will be pleased that it is all over."

NatWest said in a statement: "Both sides now consider that this long-running matter is best settled by consent and the bank has agreed, without accepting liability, that it will make a payment to Mr and Mrs Cannon and meet their reasonable legal costs to bring the dispute to an end."

In September Mr Cannon, of South Dissington Farm, near Ponteland, was found guilty of damaging the local branch by dumping 10 tons of manure outside.

The magistrates were told by Mr Cannon's solicitor, Brad Stephens, that "his actions have been perhaps silly, but one can understand his frustration after all these years of not getting his actions settled".

Mr Stephens told the court "that at a time when he should have been living a reasonably comfortable lifestyle he was living in abject poverty" because of the long-running dispute.

David Cannon sprays a bank with manure
The farmer used his tractor to deliver his message
Mr Cannon, who had to sell his prize herd of Ayrshire cattle to pay debts during the dispute, dumped two wagon loads of manure outside the branch in June.

He had just heard from his solicitors that NatWest wanted to settle the dispute before it reached the high court.

The farmer dumped one load and was returning home for more when he was stopped by police.

They asked him to abandon the protest but he returned to the bank with another load of manure.

Mr Cannon was given a concurrent 60-day jail term suspended for a year for breaching a previous conditional discharge sentence for an attack on the bank last year.

He was also fined 100 and given nine penalty points on his licence for careless driving and ordered to pay 845 compensation for the damage caused to the bank and 250 prosecution costs.

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