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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
Is it possible to actually see you occupying the caravan without trespassing on the site please - i.e. is it possible to see from any vantage point such as a window overlooking the site for example?
It is not possible to see the caravan at all from anywhere off site. We have had an architect in, to demonstrate this by scale elevation and birds eye drawings. The caravan is completely concealed, but in any case even if she was standing right outside it, she would not witness us living in it. IT is 40 years old has broken and blocked windows, no toilet, no water, no bed, no furniture etc. It looks absolutely derelict, and we do have witnesses saying we have not and could not live in the caravan - in any case the barn has everything and has done since 2008.
Thanks. The evidence you have obtained from your architect in terms of elevations is ideal and goes beyond what I was going to suggest in terms of obtaining a report from him. In addition photographs and a statement / report as to the condition of the caravan so as to make it impossible for habitation would be useful.
Unfortunately it is not possible to force the lady to retract her statement. You can however discredit the statement by presenting evidence rebutting the same which the above evidence would appear to achieve conclusively.
If you can demonstrate the statement is false and was given without an honest belief in its contents and the same is given in a judicial forum then it is possible to bring or threaten bringing contempt of court proceedings against the person in question however this is a relatively high test. Is the matter being heard in court or buy a planning inspector?
Yes , we have all that , but in the meantime the planners are still using it in their Statement of Case and Proof of Evidence, touting it around to see if it will motivate others to come up with other stories about how we have not been living in the barn. We do not want her to just get away with it. Seeing as we think we can prove she is lying - and she certainly cannot prove it (because for starters it is a lie), we want to take action quick. What are our optionsand how much will it cost We have already spent over £50000 on the planning case - but it will be worth it if we win.
Is the matter being heard in court or by a planning inspector?
Planning inspector. We have a planning legal firm acting for us, but she doesn't think it matters because it is so obviously untrue - she has been over to the site twice. The trouble is, we think it does matter and want to do something about it in any case, regardless of the inquiry. We just do not want to allow people to tell lies about us and get away with it. She needs to learn a lesson , or at least come over and look at the caravan, then re think her statement to theLPA.
Thanks. My view based on what you say is that I generally tend to agree with your solicitor however if you wish to go further there is no specific rule under the Town and Country Planning (Inquiries Procedure) Rules which deals with false statements unlike the position in the courts. Accordingly you would have to rely upon other legislation.
If the lady has given an affidavit or sworn oath then you could invite her to retract her statement on the basis that you have evidence it is untrue, drawing her attention to s1 Perjury Act 1911 which provides that it is an offence to give a sworn statement in a judicial proceeding which he knows to be false or does not believe to be true. If he does so he shall be guilty of perjury.
This is a serious offence and you can ask the police to prosecute - highly unlikely they would take any interest - or bring a private prosecution. In practice this is not easy as you have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that she knew the statement to be false but you could advise her that it is your intention to bring about a private prosecution in the face of your rebuttal evidence unless she can adduce evidence that supports her statement.
You would need to approach the above carefully as you do not wish to be accused of witness intimidation or harassment but properly put through your solicitor it is something that is potentially open to you albeit I do not pretend it would be in practice either easy or cheap to do so.
On the basis you have evidence to thoroughly discredit her evidence as above my view would be that this should be sufficient to rebut the evidence entirely.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you any further?
You have been great! All we have to do now is find a solicitor to act for us. Can you recommend anyone?
Which city do you live nearest?