Farmer cleared over alleged Whittinghame House pig problems

The pigs were accused of running amok in the grounds of Whittinghame House. File picture: Kimberley Powell
The pigs were accused of running amok in the grounds of Whittinghame House. File picture: Kimberley Powell
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A PIG farmer accused of allowing his prized porkers to destroy the grounds of a luxury country estate has been cleared.

Kevin Martin was said to have allowed his pigs to tear up the lawn of the historic 19th century Whittingehame House and to chase after shocked residents.

I looked up and saw two big pigs charging towards me. I saw them charging and I threw my toothbrush at them and I began to run away.

Lily Pride

One resident living at the neoclassical mansion told Edinburgh Sheriff Court she was forced to fend of two of the beasts with just a toothbrush after the pair of swine “charged” at her.

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While other residents spoke of regularly spotting the massive Tamworths breaking free from their pen and rooting and digging around the manicured grounds.

But following a trial at the capital court Martin walked free after being found not guilty of culpably and recklessly allowing the pigs in his care to freely roam the grounds of Whittinghame Estate, near Haddington, East Lothian, and approach persons causing them fear and alarm in February 2014.

Martin, 45, was said to have owned more than 20 massive Tamworth pigs and kept them in a field adjacent to the Whittingehame mansion house.

But residents soon began to complain about the pigs escaping from their field and eating the shrubbery in the well-kept grounds.

Solicitor’s wife Lily Pride, 47, previously told the capital court she was approached by two of the loose pigs as she cleaned her boots following a country walk.

She said: “I went to the garage to clean my boots with a toothbrush. I looked up and saw two big pigs charging towards me.

“I saw them charging and I threw my toothbrush at them and I began to run away. They were running after me and I ran towards the house - I was terrified.

“I didn’t have any food and I thought they might bite my legs. I was in a terrible state – I was shaking and shouting.”

And husband John Pryde, a Glasgow-based lawyer, said he regularly spotted the Tamworths roaming the grounds and destroying the shrubbery, and also spoke of his wife’s terror at being chased by the huge animals.

He said: “We got home around 4pm and I could see the pigs roaming about the lawn again. I got out my car and went towards the front doors which leads to my apartment, but my wife wanted to wash her boots as they were muddy.

“But just as I was opening the inside door I heard screaming – it was my wife. I pulled the [main] door open just as she was coming in and she was in a big panic and very upset as there was a pig behind her.

“She was screaming that the pig had chased her.

“It was right next to her – it was a huge pig. She was very upset and crying”

The brief added his wife had been fearful to wander the grounds of the neo-classical mansion house again following the porcine incident.

He added: “She wasn’t too keen to go out in the grounds after that. We had seen them a lot in the grounds but it never occurred to us that they would chase us.”

But despite testimony from several other Whittingehame residents claiming they regularly saw loose pigs rooting around the grounds Martin was found not guilty following an appearance at the court yesterday.

Following the Crown closing their case against the farmer, Martin, who was representing himself, put forward of no case to answer in respect of the Crown case.

Martin said: “The Crown has failed to show a crime has been committed or failed to show I committed any crime or were in charge of the animals at the time. Also, the pictures [of the alleged destruction] the court was shown were not of that time period.

Sheriff Donald Corke agreed with Martin after finding the residents did not suffer fear or alarm or that the pigs were indeed aggressive.

The historic Whittinghame House, on the outskirts of Haddington, East Lothian, was the birthplace of 19th century Tory Prime Minister Arthur Balfour and his brother and respected scientist Francis Maitland Balfour.

The A-listed mansion house now comprises of seven apartments worth an estimated £1.5 million each.