Farmer ordered to pay damages in grass cutting row

The cut field at the heart of the dispute between Alexander Simpson and Alexander Dewar. Picture: Perthshire Picture Agency
The cut field at the heart of the dispute between Alexander Simpson and Alexander Dewar. Picture: Perthshire Picture Agency
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A SCOTTISH aristocrat accused of taking grass from a neighbour’s field has been ordered to pay damages.

The Hon Alexander Dewar was questioned by police after a padlock and chain were cut and a field full of grass was mown on his orders.

The officers also quizzed Mr Dewar at his home on Dupplin Estate after the bales of chopped silage were found on land partly owned by the Church of Scotland.

The full background to the legal row was aired at Perth Sheriff Court as Mr Dewar was ordered to pay damages to neighbouring farmer 
Alexander Simpson.

Mr Simpson told the court he called in Tayside Police after turning up at Tibbermore Church Glebe in Perth to find that someone had entered the field and chopped the grass.

“The police said they had never had a case of someone lifting a gate and cutting a growing crop and taking it away,” Mr Simpson told the small claims hearing at court.

“They weren’t even sure it would be a criminal matter. The fact they had broken into a field and stolen a growing crop made it more difficult because it didn’t seem to be covered by any legislation.”

Mr Simpson said that when he subsequently approached Mr Dewar about it, the landowner admitted being responsible and ordering his tenant to remove the grass by “whatever means necessary”.

Mr Dewar admitted mistakenly ordering a worker to cut and bale the field, but claimed Mr Simpson was trying to “exploit” him with a “disproportionate” legal claim.

Mr Simpson, of Castle Farm, Methven, told the court one third of the 1.93 acre field at 
Tibbermore Church Glebe was rented by him from its owners, the Church of Scotland.

He said he cut the grass twice a year to use for silage and said he was shocked to find a chain had been broken to gain entry and the entire field had been cut by Mr Dewar’s contractor.

Mr Simpson lodged a claim for £685.40 in respect of the grass and the damage caused, and after evidence was led Mr Dewar was ordered to pay him £230.

Mr Dewar, who had been under the impression that the field belonged to him, said at the time he had offered to let his neighbour cut the whole field and keep the grass next time around or accept £100 cash as compensation. “I believe these to be generous alternatives to reflect my embarrassment for my mistake and would more than compensate Mr Simpson for any loss,” he said. “I much regret my oversight.”

He said he only realised the mistake after police contacted him. The Hon Alexander Dewar is the heir to the title Baron Forteviot. Both parties left court without comment.