Councillor ‘received death threat’ over Jeremy Clarkson Diddly Squat farm row
Death threats have been made against two people who opposed Jeremy Clarkson’s Diddly Squat farm expansions, the local council has revealed.
West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) has said it is aware of malicious communications against an unnamed councillor and a member of the public who spoke out against the 62-year-old former Top Gear presenter’s plans.
The threats came some time after the airing of Season 2 of Clarkson’s Farm via Amazon Studios on February 10, the council said.
The Planning Inspector is holding a hearing for the TV presenter’s appeal against WODC’s refusal to grant planning permission for an extension to the car park at his shop, which is near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire.
Clarkson is also challenging the council’s move to shut down his restaurant on the same plot of land because he opened it allegedly without planning permission in July last year.
WODC said they put extra security measures in place for Tuesday’s hearing as a result of the threats.
The council said in a statement: “Unfortunately we have had to take safety precautions following a number of threats and abuse directed at councillors and local people since the airing of Season 2 of Clarkson’s Farm.
“This has included death threats and as a result we have had to consider a range of safety measures to protect councillors, staff and residents.
“We understand people may not agree with decisions taken by the council but there is no place for threatening or abusive behaviour.
“It damages the democratic process when people feel intimidated and do not feel safe to express the opinions they are entitled to.”
A council spokesperson added that at least one of the threats has been reported to Thames Valley Police.
WODC took action against Clarkson in August saying in its enforcement notice that the “nature, scale and siting” of the restaurant on his farm was “incompatible with its open countryside location” in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
It then ordered closure of the restaurant or anything selling food that will be consumed on the farm, along with removal of the dining tables, chairs, parasols, picnic tables, and mobile toilet.
Agents working on behalf of Clarkson say they are not in breach of planning laws, claiming that the council’s decision is “excessive”.
The John Phillips Planning Consultancy (JPPC) wrote in their appeal against the enforcement notice that existing planning permission gives them the right to use the farm as a restaurant, and there has been no “material change” to the land.
WODC’s lawyers argued that the “level of use of the site” has “significantly increased” due to the restaurant, and the land is “now used for a mix of purposes which go well beyond that of a farm shop”.
The council has said that due to these reasons, the current planning permission “could never apply” to the new enterprises on the site.
A final decision on the plans will be published in the coming weeks.
Thames Valley Police and JPPC have been contacted for comment.