Edinburgh Woollen Mill's Phillip Day loses woodland damage fine appeal

Damaged woodland at Gelt Woods, Brampton, Cumbria Image copyright NATURAL ENGLAND
Image caption Prosecutors said trees were felled in order to make an access track for shooting

A clothing tycoon has lost appeals against his conviction and fine for damaging ancient Cumbrian woodland.

Phillip Day was prosecuted in 2013 for clearing part of Gelt Woods, near Brampton, for a pheasant shoot.

The owner of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill chain was fined £450,000 and ordered to pay £457,000 in costs, after admitting two charges brought by Natural England.

Judges at London's Criminal Appeal Court dismissed challenges to his conviction and the amount of his fine.

The Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is protected due its age and the form of gorge woodland, a type particular to north Cumbria and parts of Scotland.

During his trial at Carlisle Crown Court, the 48-year-old businessman denied he had played any part in giving any instructions for the work, which involved the felling of trees and excavation of land to build an access track.

He claimed he had not been consulted about it and did not know it might be done, but later admitted two counts of allowing unauthorised work to be carried out.

At the Appeal Court, his lawyers argued the crown court judge's "approach to the case was wrong" and the fine "disproportionate".

However, the appeal court judge pointed to the original guilty pleas, which were made in "clear and unequivocal terms" and said the fine was "entirely proportionate".

Following the failure of his appeal, Mr Day said, in a statement, he was surprised and disappointed by the decision and would consider going to the Supreme Court.

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