Page last updated at 08:15 GMT, Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Vicar arrested over hedge dispute

A County Durham vicar has been arrested after a dispute with his neighbour over the height of a hedge, it has emerged.

The row broke out between the Reverend Stuart Bennett and Brian Stokoe after complaints about the 20ft (6m) hedges at the vicarage in Castleside, Consett.

Mr Stokoe said the bushes blocked the light from his home, but Mr Bennett, the vicar of St John's Church, said the hedges were not his responsibility.

Durham Police confirmed they questioned two men about an alleged assault.

A force spokesman said: "We are investigating an alleged assault which happened on the night of 14 December in the Hillcrest area of Castleside.

Church investigation

"Two men, 47 and 57, have been arrested and interviewed in connection with this incident, which we understand arose from a dispute over a large hedge which forms part of a boundary between neighbours.

"They have been released on police bail until mid-January and a file has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.

"The police and CPS will consult in due course and decide what, if any, charges should be brought."

Mr Bennett, who moved to the parish in 2007 and who was not available for comment, has said responsibility for the hedges lies with the Diocese of Durham.

The Bishop of Durham's chaplain Jon Bell said the church was investigating the matter.

"The Bishop of Durham is aware of Mr Bennett's situation and has asked the Archdeacon of Durham to look into it," he said.

"The matter is in the hands of the police and there is no other comment."

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