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Page last updated at 08:45 GMT, Wednesday, 28 March 2012 09:45 UK

Sark Islanders fear takeover


The tiny Channel Island of Sark has a unique constitutional position: part of Britain, but not the UK, it is still held as a fief on behalf of the Queen. It only became a democracy in 2008 but islanders have told us that that democracy is now under threat.

They say they are being bullied and intimidated by representatives of Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, the owners of the Telegraph, in the local newsletter. The two brothers now own a third of the island and local people told us they think they're trying to take control of it.

Sark decides its own laws, sets its own taxes and with only 600 inhabitants is small enough to be taken over. The Today programme's Sarah Montague went to the island to find out what they were complaining about.

The Barclay Brothers declined to be interviewed but their lawyer emailed to say the allegations we put to them were "unsupported by evidence and, indeed, false". The same lawyer said he separately acted for Kevin Delaney, the owner, publisher and editor, of the Sark Newsletter. He also denied the allegations and said people often complained to him that they felt intimidated and unable to speak out against the feudal establishment and the newsletter was the only effective political opposition on the island. The Ministry of Justice also declined to be interviewed and gave us a statement saying: "Sark has its own elected democracy; is not part of the UK and is not represented in the UK Parliament, although the Crown has ultimate responsibility to ensure good governance."

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