Blandford cleared of assaulting police during arrest: Charges dropped because warrant was invalid. Will Bennett reports

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The Independent Online
THE MARQUESS of Blandford was unlawfully arrested when he was detained by police after a violent struggle three weeks ago, the Crown Prosecution Service admitted yesterday.

Two charges of assaulting the two officers who arrested him were dropped at the request of the prosecution at Horseferry Road magistrates' court, central London.

Lord Blandford, 37, of Kensington, west London, still faces six charges of making off without paying taxi fares totalling pounds 179 in London, including two added yesterday. His bail was extended to 28 July.

The heir to the pounds 100m Blenheim estate in Oxfordshire was not in court yesterday. He has a history of drug taking and is being treated at a London psychiatric clinic.

After his arrest for failing to pay his estranged wife Becky pounds 10,534 in maintenance arrears he was jailed for 112 days, but released three days later when the judge, Mr Justice Johnson, admitted he had exceeded his powers.

The judge said the maximum sentence he was allowed to impose was 42 days, asked for the case to be re-listed and ordered Lord Blandford's release.

Jeffery McCann, for the prosecution, told the magistrates' court that Sergeant Michael Tate and Constable Patrick Murphy went to the flat next door to Lord Blandford's on another matter. They happened to find him there and arrested him because there was a warrant out.

'The alleged assaults were committed during the course of that purported arrest,' Mr McCann said. Because the judge's order had been invalid so was the warrant, 'therefore the arrest that flowed from it was unlawful. The Crown Prosecution Service takes the view that the evidence is insufficient to satisfy the tests under the prosecutors' code of practice. There is no realistic prospect of securing a conviction.'

Ronald Moss, the magistrate, agreed that the two charges should be withdrawn and granted the defence costs, later estimated at up to pounds 500.

Roger Eastman, for Lord Blandford, said: 'It is anticipated that he will stay where he is for at least some further few weeks. It is felt that it would be against his medical interests to come out today.'