3 April 1998

Bailiffs evict 72-year-old from home after financial wrangle

A RETIRED farmer has been evicted from his home and land after a legal and financial wrangle dating back more than 25 years.

Villagers mounted a spontaneous demonstration as a bailiff told Peter Hankin, 72, to leave Horham Hall, a centuries-old farmhouse near Eye in Suffolk.

Mr Hankin, a bachelor, had lived in the house for 50 years, farming 36ha (90 acres) of land until only a few years ago when he handed the work over to contractors.

The eviction followed the granting of a possession order to the Official Solicitor to the Supreme Court and a financial wrangle involving the Inland Revenue and the Official Receiver.

Mr Hankin said he believed his troubles involved the non-payment of duties which had become payable after the deaths of his mother and father in the early 1970s.

He acknowledges that he let matters slide, not replying to, or even opening, official letters. "I suppose I should have done something about it. But I never thought it would come to this," he said.

Villagers did not know until a few hours before the eviction that Mr Hankin, a fiercely independent man who had never discussed his personal life, was in any difficulty.

They turned up with placards which said: "Dont take an old mans home" and "Leave Peter alone".

But the eviction took place and rather than go into an old peoples home, Mr Hankin accepted an offer from Richard Jolly to move into an empty cottage on his farm at neighbouring Hoxne.

Mr Hankin, whose home and land are thought to be worth about £450,000, says he does not know how much he owes.

Now Michael Lord, MP for Central Suffolk, is trying to find out how Mr Hankin came to be evicted without officials ensuring he was either present or legally represented at court hearings. &#42

Peter Hankin, evicted from his home of 50 years after alleged non payment of death duties. His MP is to investigate how he came to be evicted without attending court or being legally represented.