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Last Updated:  Sunday, 2 March, 2003, 17:25 GMT
Van Hoogstraten footpath finally cleared
Nicholas Van Hoogstraten's mansion
The footpath across his Sussex estate was blocked in 1990
A footpath blocked by jailed property tycoon Nicholas Van Hoogstraten has finally been cleared.

The multi-millionaire had denied ramblers access to the path, which crossed his East Sussex estate, by blocking it with a barbed wire fence, padlocked gates, fridges and a barn.

Ramblers won the right to re-open the path and started work on February 10 and it was fully cleared on Sunday.

Van Hoogstraten was jailed for 10 years last October for the manslaughter of a business rival.

Van Hoogstraten, 57, first blocked the path through his estate at Framfield, near Uckfield, 13 years ago.

East Sussex County Council ordered him to clear it within 90 days but he instead successfully applied to have the footpath diverted.

'Stunning victory for walkers'

The diversion stood until November 2002, when the Ramblers' Association succeeded in a court battle to have it quashed and the 140-year-old path re-opened.

The decision came just a month after the tycoon, who has branded ramblers "riff-raff" and "the great unwashed" had been jailed for his part in the killing of Mohammed Raja by two hitmen.

Kate Ashbrook of the Ramblers' Association had led the campaign to have the path cleared and was given the honour of making the first cut through the barbed wire fences when clearance work began last month.

The path runs close to Van Hoogstraten's unfinished neo-classical mansion, which has cost him 40m to build so far.

The Ramblers' Association has described the clearance of the right-of-way as a "stunning victory for walkers" and says the path had become "the country's most notorious blocked footpath".

Ramblers open Hoogstraten path
10 Feb 03 |  England
Tycoon jailed for 10 years
25 Oct 02 |  UK News
Tycoon found guilty
22 Jul 02 |  World at One

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