How has Clarkson caused offence this time? With a fence...

The Top Gear presenter is at war with neighbours over ancient rights of way bordering his Isle of Man home. Tom Peck on a six-year feud

Barbed wire, dead sheep, militant dog walkers and Jeremy Clarkson. Together these elements form the biggest brouhaha on the otherwise tranquil Isle of Man since the days when a young Nigel Mansell patrolled the cliff tops in his Special Constable's uniform.

The news that wire fencing and gate posts have been uprooted from the perimeter of Jeremy Clarkson's holiday home on the Langness Peninsula, and unceremoniously hurled into the sea, is merely the latest agitation in a lengthy battle that has pitched the Isle of Man's rambling community against the Top Gear presenter – a man not celebrated for his love of walking.

"Mindless bloody idiots," is what Mr Clarkson's wife, Frances, has branded those who uprooted the fence, who remain at large.

The row centres on a 230-metre stretch of footpath past the Clarkson's estate, which the couple have on several occasions attempted to fence off since they purchased the holiday home in 2005.

Some claim the footpath is a public right of way. Enter Prowl, or "Public Rights of Way – Langness", a pressure group on the island who have campaigned for access to the pathway to be reopened, affording passers-by an unrestricted view into the Clarkson kitchen and, as the presenter has complained, the opportunity to "actually see me standing in my garden and point at me".

It may be that the opportunity to do just that is in fact boosting tourism on the island. Ian Costain, a spokesman for Prowl, said: "If he weren't such a key personality the matter would have been solved some years ago, but some people are uncertain about upsetting him."

Upset, however, he most certainly is. "The whole point of buying a house on the end of a peninsula is so that you get five minutes not being bothered. When you are in the public eye it's very easy to be portrayed as a villain. Actually, in this case, I'm not," Mr Clarkson said in 2008.

The couple released a statement yesterday which said: "We have been shocked and greatly saddened by the recent acts of criminal damage on our land. Whoever ripped up the fence posts and gate protecting the cliff edge ... clearly had no thought for the safety of others.

"We don't want to comment on the ongoing court case. But we would say to those who have again targeted our home at beautiful Langness: please, just stop this right now."

Last year, an inquiry concluded that the presenter had been wrong to reroute the footpath. Despite not being a legal right of way, previous landowners had historically granted "permissive rights" to walkers. It was during the course of this inquiry that Mr Clarkson branded Prowl and its supporters "very unpleasant militant dog walkers" who thought they had "a god-given right to trample on somebody's garden wherever they want".

Mrs Clarkson said the couple were appealing against the ruling. But according to Prowl, the case is open and closed, and its impending day in the High Court merely concerns the publication of the new definitive map of footpaths. "As the deemster [Manx for judge] concluded at the time, 'there will be no second bite at the evidential cherry'," the group said.

A police spokesperson, however, said that "no final decisions in relation to access rights have currently been made." A spokseman for the Clarksons also said the matter remains before the High Court.

Should the footpath be reopened it might also be bad news for the Langness Peninsula's unfortunate sheep, some of which Mr Clarkson claims have been chased into the sea by unleashed dogs.

Should the High Court force the Clarksons to reopen the footpath, Mr Costain says the presenter will have to "take down the barbed wire and replace the kissing gates that were removed".

However, Mr Clarkson has promised to sell the property if he is forced to remove the fencing and gates, and many on the island would be sorry to see him go. "There are plenty of people here who have a lot of time for him, and who would take his side," Mr Costain says.

Other celebrity land disputes

* The torching of a pleasure boat belonging to Cameron Mackintosh in February marked a flamboyant escalation in a 13-year dispute over land rights on the theatre impresario's 14,000-acre estate in the Scottish Highlands. Mr Mackintosh wants to build holiday homes and a woodland project on a 25-acre sliver of the property, but one of his elderly tenants, an 87-year-old crofter, uses the land for grazing animals. "I may have been in dispute with the man, but I have not been burning his boat," the tenant said.

* Two prize stags were shot dead and left on the doorstep of entrepreneur and restaurateur Richard Caring's private Exmoor lodge, a few weeks before someone took a pot shot at the letterbox of Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones.

* Film director Guy Ritchie recently had his £6m Fitzroy Square home in London taken over by squatters. "Legal warning. Take notice... that we live in this house, it is our home and we intend to stay here," the group, who called themselves The Really Free School, posted in a note on the door. Despite taking their case to court, they were evicted after four days.

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
The reindeer pen at the attraction
lifeLaurence Llewelyn-Bowen's 'Magical Journey' and other winter blunderlands
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'