Rebel MP faces legal action by planners

Thurrock Council last night voted to go ahead with legal action against Teresa Gorman, the Tory MP for Billericay, rejecting a motion by the Essex council's Conservative group to drop the case and despite a threatened picket by the rebel MP herse lf, writes Jojo Moyes.

Mrs Gorman and her husband, Jim, face more than 60 charges of breaking planning laws during restorations, which included a porch, of Old Hall Farm, a timber-framed 15th-century farmhouse in Orsett, Essex. She claims the Labour-controlled council is manipulating the dispute for political purposes.

Last night the council ratified the planning committee's decision to take action against the Gormans. A motion by Ray Andrews, Tory group leader, disapproving of the court action, was defeated.

The Gormans' solicitor, Jeremy Nieboer, said: "We shall resist attempts by the council for the house to be demolished and will be applying for retrospective planning permission for the work."