Family to lose farm to lender after court ruling

A family have been refused permission to appeal against a court ruling which allows a finance company to repossess their hill farm.

Alun and Mary Williams, of Garndolbenmaen in Gwynedd, have lost their legal fight against UK Acorn Finance. The family got into difficulty after they say a £1.2m debt rose to more than £3m.

Farmers Alun and Mary Williams on their farm near Porthmadog, north Wales, from which the family are to be evicted.

Farmers Alun and Mary Williams on their farm near Porthmadog, north Wales, from which the family are to be evicted. ©Andrew Price/View Finder Pictures Chester

But a judge at Llangefni county court in Anglesey refused permission for Mrs Williams, whose sons are the fifth generation of the family to run the 240ha sheep and beef farm, to appeal the earlier ruling.

Mr Justice Newey said Mrs Williams was also asking him to “stay” the proceedings for a possible criminal probe and for her to seek free legal help.

But the judge said proceedings were issued in 2011 and judgment was given in July last year after a trial in 2013.

Mary and Alun Williams outside court

Alun Williams comforts his devastated wife outside Llangefni court on 26 March after the couple were refused leave to appeal a possession order. ©Andrew Price/View Finder Pictures Chester

“The position is that police at an earlier stage considered whether to mount a formal investigation and decided there was insufficient evidence to do so,” the judge declared. Mr Justice Newey said there appeared to be no ongoing investigation.

Dismissing the application by Mrs Williams for permission to appeal against the county court order, he said: “I haven’t been persuaded an appeal would have a real prospect of success.

“I appreciate the thoroughly unenviable position Mrs Williams and her family find themselves in and I very much sympathise with them.”

Mrs Williams had told the judge: “I wrote to the Queen because I was very unhappy with what was happening to farmers.”

She claimed in court that 57 “victims” were going through a similar experience.

Iwan Williams, his father Alun, and grandfather Robert Morris Williams at the Porthmadog Show in 1995.

Happier times: Iwan Williams (left), his father Alun Williams (centre), and grandfather Robert Morris Williams (right) at the Porthmadog Show in 1995. ©Andrew Price/View Finder Pictures Chester

Barrister Gary Cowen, for UK Acorn Finance, said the time for reopening the case had long gone.

Outside court, the firm said in a statement: “The result of this decision is that UK Acorn Finance is now able to enforce the order for possession that was granted by the court on 28 July.

Mary Williams on the farm in 2007.

Mary Williams on the farm in 2007. ©Andrew Price/View Finder Pictures Chester

“UK Acorn Finance has repeatedly invited Mrs Williams to enter into a constructive dialogue with it to achieve the repayment of her loans but Mrs Williams has chosen not to take up those invitations.

“That has left UK Acorn Finance with no option other than the enforcement of its loan security to enable it to meet its obligations to its funders.”

The statement accused her of making “baseless allegations of wrongdoing” against the company, directors, consultants and advisers.

“UK Acorn Finance has categorically denied all and any allegations of wrongdoing or inappropriate behaviour in its dealings with all or any of its borrowers and continues to do so,” it added.

The family were supported at the hearing by other farmers who had borrowed from the company.

Mrs Williams said after the hearing: “I’m devastated at the outcome.We don’t know what the future holds for us.

“We were trying to keep as positive as possible to keep everyone in the family going.”

She and her husband and sons now face losing their farm and homes. Mrs Williams added: “It’s a nightmare day for us, the worst day of our lives.”

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