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Last Updated: Friday, 13 June, 2003, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Outrage at burglar's right to sue Martin
Tony Martin
Tony Martin is serving a five year prison sentence
A court decision which will see farmer Tony Martin sued by the burglar he shot and injured has been condemned as "outrageous" by his supporters.

Brendon Fearon, 33, won the right to sue Martin for a reported 15,000 damages for wounds he received during a break-in at the farmer's home in Emneth Hungate, Norfolk, in August 1999.

On Friday, a judge at Nottingham County Court declared Fearon was entitled under the Human Rights Act to a full hearing and sent the case to the Royal Courts of Justice.

Conservative politicians immediately demanded a change in the law and campaigners for Martin, 58, said the decision was a "disgrace".

His MP, Henry Bellingham, said: "I am absolutely appalled. I feel very strongly that no criminal should have any right after he has broken into a property - all legal rights should be left outside the property that was burgled.

Public opinion must be at boiling point, people will be gobsmacked that the law can be so wrong
Malcolm Starr, campaigner
"It is outrageous that a convicted burglar should get legal aid to pursue a civil case."

Mr Bellingham, who represents North West Norfolk, has written to new cabinet minister Lord Falconer, demanding a change in the law.

Conservative home affairs spokesman Dominic Grieve said: "There is clearly an imbalance in the law between householders and burglars.

"We strongly disagree with the fact that burglars can sue for damage done to them in the course of committing a crime."

Malcolm Starr, a friend and campaigner for Martin, said: "This is disgraceful and means yet more public money will be wasted on this claim.

'Right to seek compensation'

"How can the law allow this to go on? It means that a burglar who was injured trespassing on another man's property and is sent to prison can then have the cheek to sue him for damages.

"Public opinion must be at boiling point, people will be gobsmacked that the law can be so wrong."

But a spokeswoman for the human rights group Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, said it was right for Fearon to have the chance to go to court.

"Brendon Fearon is a convicted criminal and is, quite rightly, serving time in prison," she said.

"That does not take away his right to seek compensation for the injuries he suffered."

As well as injuring Fearon, Martin shot dead his accomplice, 16-year-old Fred Barras, of Newark, Nottinghamshire, and is currently serving a jail sentence for manslaughter.




SEE ALSO:
Should burglars have the right to sue?
13 Jun 03  |  Have Your Say
Tony Martin 'a dangerous man'
27 May 03  |  Norfolk
Tony Martin: Crime and controversy
13 Jun 03  |  Norfolk


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