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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Farmer arrested over travellers
Travellers on farm field
The travellers said the gate to the field was open
A Devon farmer has been arrested for trying to move travellers who camped on his land.

About 20 moved onto land belonging to Phil Walters at Broadclyst, near Exeter, damaging a field of organic grass worth thousands of pounds.

Mr Walters was arrested on Thursday after moving a mechanical hay bale lifter onto the field but the travellers said they felt threatened.

Mr Walters was later released and told evictions must be left to the courts.

These people have got the right to live. But when it interferes with the lifestyle of others ... something's got to be done about it
Phil Walters

The group said the gate was open when it arrived at the field on Wishford Farm but Mr Walters maintained it was locked.

He then took his bale lifter to the site and it was said he made it look as if he was going to lift up one of the caravans.

Mr Walters said: "It is our property. How would people like those people turning up in their back gardens?

"Don't get me wrong, these people have got the right to live the way they see fit.

"But when it interferes with the lifestyle of others and it puts people out, then something's got to be done about it."

Police who had been called to the site stepped in. They arrested him and handcuffed him.

Forms served

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said Mr Walters was arrested to prevent a breach of the peace, but added: "He was in custody for approximately 20 minutes and he never left the site."

The force said that Mr Walters would not be facing charges.

The travellers said they feared for their safety during the incident.

Mick Lee from the group said Mr Walters had confronted him at his home, adding: "If I drew into his farmyard and said something to him and gave him abusive cheek, I'd be locked up."

When it was pointed out that he was on land belonging to Mr Walters, Mr Lee said: "But I am in my caravan. If I come out of my door I know I am on his property, but it's my home."

Devon and Cornwall Police said officers served forms on the group to leave the site, and that by Friday afternoon they had started to do so.

Legal action to evict travellers
27 Jul 05 |  North East Wales

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