A Wiltshire aristocrat has been acquitted of assaulting one of his family estate's trustees.
The Earl of Cardigan, whose family name is famed for its link to the Charge of the Light Brigade, was also found not guilty of a charge of criminal damage.
Salisbury Magistrates' Court heard the earl, 60, was accused of assaulting John Moore by beating on April 29 last year - just over a week after he lost a legal row with Mr Moore over ancestral portraits at the 4,500-acre Savernake Estate, near Marlborough, Wiltshire.
The earl, who was named on court documents as David Brudenell-Bruce, also faced a charge of criminal damage after he threw a handful of debris at a Mitsubishi L200 driven by an estate employee on May 17. But the magistrates said the Crown had not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt on both counts.
Leaving court the earl said: “I am delighted and relieved, I wasn't looking for trouble on either incidents. On both occasions this happened on my own property and they came to me.”
The court rejected Mr Moore's version of events, during which he described the Earl as being “like a man possessed”. Mr Moore, a barristers' clerk, alleged the Earl had used “vulgar” language towards him before spitting at him three times and finally throwing a handful of debris - containing gravel, leaves and dirt - through an open window of his Land Rover.
But the Earl told magistrates that it was Mr Moore who had followed him, stopping six times to make derogatory comments at him and his wife while they were walking in Savernake Forest.
Chair of the Bench Dr Pauline Tremlett said: “There is no doubt there is a long-standing acrimonious relationship here.”
She said the magistrates believed Mr Moore had wanted to speak with the Earl, who had not wanted to do so, resulting in the exchange becoming more and more heated.
“It is accepted that debris was introduced to the car,” Dr Tremlett said. “But despite that, we cannot say the Crown has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.”
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