Blandford banned from using taxis

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The Independent Online
THE Marquess of Blandford left Horseferry Road magistrates' court in London yesterday unable legally to take advantage of three taxis for hire parked outside. In addition to being remanded on pounds 5,000 bail, receiving a pounds 200 fine for failing to appear at the court on Tuesday, and a strict residence assurance, the marquess was banned from using cabs.

In court the 38-year-old heir to the pounds 100m Blenheim estate faced charges of stealing a cheque book, forgery and leaving taxis without paying.

During his brief court appearance, after a night in a police station, the marquess's lawyer, Michael Stanford-Tuck, said that his failure to appear the day before was 'the result of his being besieged by the press' outside his home in Chelsea, south-west London.

His lawyer said: 'He has asked me to express his sincere apologies and is very contrite.'

Asked how he was pleading on the charges against him, the marquess stood up and said 'guilty with mitigating circumstances'.

The magistrate, Stuart Black, told the marquess: 'When you are told to turn up in court, you turn up.' He gave him 14 days to pay the pounds 200 fine.

Wearing the same grey fleece top, white T-shirt, and blue tracksuit trousers he had on when arrested in west London on Tuesday night, the marquess look tired and dishevelled. Mr Stanford-Tuck said his client was in 'a fragile, emotional state - that is notorious'.

David Archer, for the prosecution, told the court of the theft of the cheque book and the issuing of pounds 800 in cheques. The marquess had also made seven cab journeys totalling pounds 212.80.

The court was told that he often left cabs near his home, went down an alleyway and then failed to re-appear. He was recognised by the cab drivers. The cab incidents were between 5 February and 3 March this year.

The marquess was bailed by police on 16 February when detectives questioned him about the theft of a cheque book at his home from a friend, Emma Parker Bowles, 19, daughter of the Countess of Halifax.

In addition to not being able to take taxi cabs, the court ordered that he live at his mews house from Monday to Thursday, and at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, from Friday to Sunday, to allow him to visit his son, George.

Leaving the court wearing a green waxed jacket and sunglasses, the marquess, pursued by a pack of reporters, photographers and television camera crews, eventually got into a white Ford Sierra with his lawyer.

Last month trustees of the Duke of Marlborough, the marquess's father, launched legal action to prevent him inheriting control of Blenheim Palace and its estates. The 67- year-old duke is said to be concerned at the prospect of his eldest son getting control of the family seat and land.

The marquess must return to court next Thursday.

(Photograph omitted)