Evicted farmer in fight to the death

10 October 2001

Evicted farmer in ‘fight to the death’

By FWi staff

AN EVICTED farmer has set up camp on a Gloucestershire roadside after vowing to “fight to the death” to win back his family farm.

Martin Yarworth claims he lost his farm because his signature was forged by his brother on a mortgage document.

The 52-year-old, formerly of Underhill Farm, Ruddle, near Westbury-on-Severn, said he may stay by the roadside until he gets justice.

“I will never give up the fight,” he said.

“Farming is my heart and my soul. I want to do it until the day I die. I might go on a hunger strike and camp by the side of the road until I rot.”

Mr Yarworth was evicted after refusing to pay a 27,000 mortgage taken out on the farmhouse in 1988. The debt has now risen to 100,000.

He claims his brother Robert duped him by forging his signature on the documents – and says he knew nothing about the mortgage until 1991.

Mr Yarworth refused to pay the mortgage. But his allegation have been rejected by the local county court and an appeal court.

The farmhouse that has been his familys home for more than a century was repossessed by bailiffs on Monday (8 October).

Around 20 neighbours came out in support of Mr Yarworth when he was moved out of the farm that was left to him and his brother by their parents.

Mr Yarworth left the property in tears. Locksmiths then arrived to change the locks and boarded up the house, which will now be put up for sale.

The future of his 34 sheep remained in doubt because the building society said they, too, must be moved off the land.

Diana Organ, MP for the Forest of Dean, has spoken out in support of Mr Yarworth and has called for new investigation into the matter.

The Portman Building Society issued a statement saying it had tried for two years to “enter into a constructive dialogue with Mr Yarworth”.

The statement, which ended with an apology, said the Yarworth brothers took out a joint mortgage on Underhill Farm in 1988.

“For a number of years Mr Yarworth has maintained he did not sign a legal charge document with his brother. A district judge has dismissed this claim.”

The society said it had received virtually no mortgage payments since 1992.

Offers had been made on the property during this time, including some that would have enabled Mr Yarworth to keep living there, it added.

“We are sorry this matter could not have been resolved amicably,” it said. “We were left with no alternative but to repossess the property.”

Now repossession had taken place, the society said it would seek to gain a fair price for the property through local estate agents.”

It said it was possible the farm would sell for more than the outstanding debt, in which case Mr Yarworth would get some money from the sale.


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