Owner barricades himself in to prevent sale of Solent fort

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A businessman who bought the No Man's Land sea fortress off the English coast has barricaded himself inside the complex and is refusing to let estate agents in after his financial backers went bust.

Harmesh Pooni, 42, says he is the rightful owner of the Grade II listed building which he has owned since 2004, despite administrators stepping in and handing it over to be sold by estate agents.

The historic site island property, which lies in the Solent between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, was erected over the sea in 1870 to see off Napoleon III. And in the tradition of all good fortresses, it is now being fiercely guarded by the unlikely figure of Mr Pooni, a businessman who purchased it four years ago for £6m and who possesses its building's only set of keys. Clambering off a small boat and on to the structure, Mr Noon upturned tables in order to prevent helicopters from landing, plastered the former turrets with posters threatening "trespassers" with prosecution, and set himself up in the fort's lighthouse.

"The fort is mine and no one else has the right to sell it," Mr Pooni said. "Even if they get an order to evict me, I shall carry on fighting in the courts. No one is going to want to buy it with the thought that it might not be legally theirs hanging over them."

Mr Pooni will not be without resources, as the well-equipped fort has its own generators and fresh water bore hole as well as a swimming pool, gym, sauna, tennis court and bars.