ALEXANDER Darwall, the landowner and hedge fund manager who successfully overturned the legal right to camp on Dartmoor without permission has responded to Dartmoor National Park Authority's decision to appeal the high court ruling.
In the response, Darwall's spokesperson accused the DNPA of 'behaving like a campaigning organisation', and threatened that 'if you do (pursue the appeal), you risk creating a Situation which is worse than the current one.'
The full response read:
'The Court of Appeal's recent order given permission to appeal should not be misread or overestimated. It is acknowledged in accordance with the court rules that there was an arguable position but no higher than that. The reality is that the Chancellor of the High Court, the most senior judge in that division of the high court came to a considered view after detailed submissions over two days in court made by your behalf, by your lawyers, instructed by you, and after a detailed search of Devon county archive.
'You have twin duties: to conserve and enhance Dartmoor National Park natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage and promote opportunities for the public to understand and enjoy the special qualities of Dartmoor National Park.
'They are in conflict here in a way which I cannot see how you can reconcile. Where there in such conflict you are supposed to put the first of these principles first, the Sandford Principle.
'You are prioritising the second over the first and by doing so of pushing in a direction of even greater conflict between the two. Your arguments risk regularising all form of camping on the commons.
'You are not behaving as a public authority should. You are behaving like a campaigning organisation. That is not your purpose and duty. First, you have indulged a mass trespass and for all quotes in the media you have briefed extensively in a very biased way. Your Chief Executive wrote to the Darwells seeking to restrict access to Stall Moor. That Assertion is completely untrue. That is not the behaviour that commands respect. You need respect if you are going to discharge of your duties.
'Secondly, if you take money from external bodies to fund a legal campaign indeed you encourage that funding. You fetter your discretion as a public authority You become beholden to a pressure group. That is unwise for a public authority. Thirdly, you do not, unlike a county council or borough council have the benefit of great..general power of competence in section 1 bracket 1 of the localism act of 2011 to act like an individual may generally do, such as engage in a political and media campaign of this nature.
'The landowners willingly came to the table after the High Court gave its judgement to agree a scheme of permissive access for wild camping. Those permissions have been given willingly, in good faith, and with good will. By taking an appeal forward you risk imperilling that for the public.
'In short, you do not need to pursue this appeal. You should not pursue this appeal. And if you do, you risk creating a Situation which is worse than the current one.
'If you fail, you risk landowners withdrawing permission. If you succeed you unleash camping of all sorts on the commons which you have publicly said you do not want.'
Critics of Darwall's actions note that the DNPA did not endorse the Stall Moor rally, nor was it a trespass as the statement makes out. Stall Moor is common land, and therefore access is legally enshrined.
Darwall was also accused by campaign groups and individuals of fear-mongering and threatening across social media.