The trouble with `overbearing' Sir Bernard, by his neighbours

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The Independent Online
DETAILS EMERGED last night of an extraordinary feud between Baroness Thatcher's former press secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham, and his neighbours. Angry words have escalated to the point where the police were brought in and Sir Bernard now faces possible criminal damage charges.

A sauna, two wooden garages and a brightly coloured children's playhouse belonging to Barry Cripps, a builder, have fuelled Sir Bernard's growing discontent with his neighbours at "Nutcracker Gables" in Purley, Surrey.

The feud, over parking rights and property boundaries, has simmered for years. On Sunday it grew more heated when Sir Bernard allegedly kicked - and dented - Mr Cripps' shiny Mercedes because it was parked in a way that blocked his drive.

Yesterday, the Crippses told how they - instead of the Fleet Street editors of the Thatcher years - were the victims of Sir Bernard's allegedly "overbearing attitude".

The row is believed to have started when Sir Bernard, 66, saw a car belonging to Mr and Mrs Cripps parked near the garage at the back of his detached bungalow. Yesterday Mr Cripps released a statement claiming Sir Bernard kicked and dented the door of his Mercedes during the confrontation. Sir Bernard denies this.

Mervyn Toogood, a neighbour who read out a statement on behalf of Mr and Mrs Cripps, said: "They have already had to endure Sir Bernard's overbearing attitude for several years and do not wish to engage in a public dispute with him.

"His behaviour over this period has now culminated in the incident occurring on Sunday December 13 in which he kicked and dented the driver's door of their Mercedes.

"They have an undisputed right of way over the vehicular access behind Sir Bernard's property which enables them to drive to their rear garage. It was whilst attempting to drive up this shared access way that Sir Bernard kicked the car."

Sir Bernard was keeping tight-lipped today and his wife told reporters he was away.

Mr Toogood, a marketing consultant who lives opposite Sir Bernard, said there had been a history of disputes between the two neighbours and that yesterday's incident was "the straw that broke the camel's back".

The incident is thought to be the culmination of disagreements between the neighbours including a boundary dispute.Sir Bernard, who has been bailed to return to Croydon police station at a future date, is also reported to have disliked two garages built by Mr Cripps, a wooden sauna in his garden and a playhouse for his son.

Mr and Mrs Cripps, who have lived in their detached home for about 10 years, are said to have very little contact with Sir Bernard.

Sir Bernard said after the incident: "All that happened was that I have an extremely troublesome neighbour. He drove over my land to try to get his car into a rear garage.

"He knows he shouldn't do so. When I remonstrated with him, he blocked my way into my garage and then alleged that I damaged his door - although I could see no damage."

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