Madonna faces ramblers' wrath at inquiry

She may be one of the world's biggest rock stars, a potent sex symbol and even a successful actress but Madonna will this week find herself in the spotlight for a very different reason, as the scourge of ramblers.

A public inquiry is to open on Wednesday on whether the singer and her film director husband Guy Ritchie can exclude walkers from their 1,200-acre estate, Cranbourne Chase, on the Wiltshire-Dorset border.

The couple are appealing against a Countryside Agency (CA) decision giving partial access to their land which leads ramblers just 100 yards from Ashcombe House, their six-bedroomed Georgian mansion.

Madonna is insisting the CA take account of their right to privacy under the European convention on human rights. If the grassland the path crosses is found to be "semi-improved", rather than "semi-natural", the couple can claim it is in cultivation, used for game-shooting, and they can refuse ramblers access.

Madonna is also facing a hearing in Los Angeles on whether she and Ritchie stole the idea for their panned remake of Swept Away. Vincent D'Onofrio, the actor and director, says the couple and producer Sony took his idea to remake the 1974 Italian comedy starring Madonna and refused him compensation or credit.

He says he pitched the idea to Madonna in April 1997. He is said to be seeking $10m (£5.6m).

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