A farmer has defied government orders to demolish a £1 million mock-Tudor castle in the Surrey countryside, claiming that an unnamed buyer has bought the property at the last minute.
Robert Fidler has been engaged in a decade long saga after he began building a mock-Tudor mansion, complete with battlements, without planning permission in 2002.
The farmer, now aged 66, hid the construction from neighbours by surrounding it with strategically placed hay bales until 2006. He thought that he could exploit a legal loophole that if a construction last four years uncontested, it could not be challenged.
However, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council refused to grant retrospective permission.
Fidler has refused to give up, instead spending tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees in a bid to save his dream home where he lives with his wife Linda, 45, and son Harry, 14.
He was ordered to destroy it by Wednesday of this week but now says that a mysterious new owner bought the property off him the week before - while still allowing the Fidler family to live inside. However, he will not reveal who the buyer is.
The determined homeowner told The Daily Telegraph: “I have sold it and all the time the new owner allows me to remain I will stay living here.
“I know it was meant to come down sometime this week, I don’t know when. But I never had the intention of pulling it down. I don’t think I have broken any laws.”
Fidler, who designed the mock castle himself, compared his work to that of Cubist painter Picasso: “If someone said to Picasso, ‘Rip up your best oil painting’ he wouldn’t be able to do it. And neither can I. It’s beautiful and I haven’t broken any laws.”
He has yet to hear a response from the local council to his latest move.