A bench warrant has been issued for Robert Fidler, the farmer who refused to knock down the massive home he had hidden behind straw bales.
Mr Fidler failed to attend a scheduled hearing over an imitation Tudor castle he built without planning permission on his Surrey farm. Mr Justice Dove ordered his arrest after Mr Fidler, aged 63, did not show up for a recent committal hearing.
Mr Fidler built the four-bedroom property at Honeycrock Farm in Surrey in 2000, without having obtained planning permission beforehand. His family moved into the building two years later.
In 2006 Mr Fidler officially unveiled it when he thought he was in a position to take advantage of a legal loophole that stops enforcement action from being taken against a building if no objections have been made for at least four years. The local authority, however, pushed back by refusing to grant retrospective permission.
He has been working to save the castle from destruction since Reigate and Banstead Borough Council ordered him to demolish it in 2007. A year later, a Government planning inspector rejected his appeal. The inspector’s ruling was upheld by the High Court in 2010 and subsequently upheld in the Court of Appeal.
Contempt of court proceedings were initiated by the authority after Mr Fidler did not comply with the enforcement notices or an injunction that called for demolition.
Mr Justice Dove said he believed that Mr Fidler was aware of the hearing’s date and time in London, and given the potentially serious consequences for non-compliance, he should be provided with a final chance to explain why he disregarded the earlier orders.
The case was adjourned until 2:00 pm on Monday, November 2 to give Mr Fidler the opportunity to be present to answer the charges against him.
Earlier, Mr Fidler told the BBC that it would be “quite difficult” to demolish something he was very proud of, but he didn’t believe he had any choice.”