John Profumo’s stepson loses bid to silence music festival near Devon second home: Retired judge in Nimby row after telling how ‘dub-dub-dub’ noise ‘destroyed his peace and quiet’ and forced him to spend weekends in London
The aristocratic step-son of John Profumo has lost his bid to silence a music festival which was taking place at a farm neighbouring his second home in Devon.
Sir Mark Havelock-Allan QC, the 5th Baronet of Lucknow, complained that the ‘dub-dub-dub’ bass noise travelled across Dorset’s Bride Valley, destroying his peace and quiet.
Sir Mark, whose film star mother Valerie Hobson’s second husband was the disgraced war minister involved in the Christine Keeler scandal, said the sound was so intrusive he and his wife, Dame Alison Foster, felt they were ‘driven out’ on festival weekends, opting to stay at their London residence instead.
The retired crown court judge was one of several local residents who complained about the loud music and the glare of laser lights in the night sky from Bredy Farm, near Burton Bradstock, to Dorset Council.
Another complainant was a woman whose Airbnb guests said their holidays had been blighted by the noise.
The local authority prosecuted farm owner Charles Harris and his partner Dr Abigail Charlsworth for breaching a noise abatement notice.
Sir Mark Havelock-Allan QC, the 5th Baronet of Lucknow, lost his battle to silence a mini music festival on a neighbouring farm which he said destroyed his peace and quiet
Sir Mark’s second home (pictured) is near Bredy Farm
Sir Mark said that the festival had been ‘particularly intrusive not just the throb of the base – the dub-dub-dub across the valley – but you could hear the lyrics’
But despite the band of locals lining up to give evidence against Bredy Farm, magistrates found the couple not guilty.
Mr Harris and Dr Charlsworth, a vet, were able to show that the noise from the mini-festival the case was fought over did not exceed the decibel limit previously agreed by Dorset Council.
Afterwards they said the case against them had been an act of ‘pure nimbysim’ and the three day trial was a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Having won their case they are hoping to recoup some of their legal fees from Dorset Council, which runs to £30,000.
Dorset Council paid almost £9,000 in bringing the failed prosecution.
Mr Harris, 38, said: ‘In our view, the prosecution was a total waste of taxpayers money and an act of pure nimbyism at its finest.
‘Some of the local residents were against it from the get-go.
‘We were aware that neighbours had complained before we started, saying that the area was not a suitable place for live music events. They didn’t want anything to spoil their tranquility. Yet there are a lot of younger people who live in the area who want to do stuff as well.’
Mr Harris’ family has owned Bredy Farm for 76 years. Covering 260 acres it farms pedigree beef and makes its own cider.
In 2015 he and Dr Charlsworth decided to diversify and decided to stage mini-music festivals on the site that offers a natural amphitheatre set into the rolling hills.
Since then they have put on three events a year, attracting around 500 guests at a time with camping on site also offered.
But the Bride Valley, that sits above the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also a popular spot for second homeowners and staycationers.
One of those is Sir Mark who, with his second wife, a High Court judge, owns a home in the area. At the time the property, which is near Bredy Farm, was used as a second home to their main house in south London.
Giving evidence Sir Mark, 71, told Weymouth Magistrates’ Court, how the noise from the music festival in August 2019 was so intrusive he had to close all his doors and windows.
He said: ‘When they first started in 2015 the noise became noticeable. We tried not to be at the house on festival weekends.
‘At one point we knew there was going to be a festival and we chose not to be there. We felt like we were driven out.
‘The Witsun (May 2019) one was not intrusive so we were optimistic that the problem had been solved.
‘But on one of the evenings in 2019 it was particularly intrusive not just the throb of the base – the dub-dub-dub across the valley – but you could hear the lyrics.
‘Myself, my wife and my elder daughter were at the house. The music was intrusively loud. It was still audible even with all the windows shut.
‘It’s not that I don’t like the music – although it is not particularly to my taste – it was just that it was destroying the peace and quiet.
‘There’s nothing you can hear at all except the waves of Chesil Beach – it is wonderfully quiet. The beauty of the Bride Valley and its closeness to the coast – it is the most lovely part of Dorset. The countryside is glorious’.
Andrew and Christine Bailey rent out holiday cottages on their neighbouring farm. Mr Bailey described the noise on the August 2019 weekend.
Dorset Council paid almost £9,000 in bringing the failed prosecution. Mr Harris (pictured) was found not guilty
Charles Harris pictured with his partner Dr Abigail Charlsworth
He said: ‘The music was loud with a particularly intrusive base note. We had to retreat indoors. We could hear every word being sung – it wasn’t possible to get to sleep.
‘The only way we could have a proper conversation was to go indoors. The way we managed to drown out the music was to close the windows and turn up the TV.
‘It caused a lot of stress by virtue of disturbed sleep. We have to rise early because of the farm so it had an impact on the following day as a whole.
‘The guests complained to us like it was our fault.’
Joanna Clatworthy, of Lower Sturthill Farm – near the defendants’ property, complained about the ‘base’ of the music and the ‘light pollution’ from laser lights on the stage which disturbed her holidaying guests.
She said: ‘Most people who come here want to get away from places like London.
‘I have to apologise to guests that it is out of my control. It is one of those things you can’t do anything about. It is embarrassing, stressful and unnecessary. I don’t think it is anything we should have to do’.
But Mr Harris criticised Dorset Council for bringing the prosecution, claiming they did so based on the neighbours’ complaints and not noise monitoring equipment.
He said they hired an independent noise consultant to monitor the August 2019 event.
Mr Harris said: ‘The disturbance was never witnessed or monitored by the council, they just relied on recordings.
‘There was an abatement notice served on us after a 2016 event which prompted 20 complaints. Our events are somewhat at the mercy of the weather. We are in a valley and the noise travels when there is absolutely no wind.
‘After that we had a noise consultant come in and they helped us produce a noise plan that the council were happy with. The plans was that if we went at a level of 15 decibels over ambient noise levels we were in breach of the notice.
‘In August 2019 the wind was still and there were a number of complaints.
‘We had asked Dorset Council’s environmental health officers to come out to it but they refused. We logged the noise monitoring levels throughout the event and they got to eight decibels above ambient noise levels.
Charles Harris, pictured at Bredy Farm, said the prosecution ‘was a total waste of taxpayers’ money and an act of pure nimbyism at its finest’
John Profumo, Parliamentary under-secretary (right) holding his son David with his wife, actress Valerie Hobson (left) and her son from her first marriage, Anthony Mark Havelock Allan (centre) who is now the 5th Baronet Mark Havelock Allan
John Profumo is pictured with his wife, actress Valerie Hobson, in 1958. The pair remained married after his affair with Keeler emerged
Rarely-seen photos of Profumo scandal mistress Christine Keeler have emerged for sale at auction. Above: The model is seen posing in a sleeveless white dress with a glass of champagne next to her
‘So we had a three day trial just to prove our innocence.
‘As well as the financial costs, we have had the stress of being under constant scrutiny.’
A spokesperson for Dorset Council said: ‘Under the Environmental Protection Act, Councils have a duty to investigate complaints about noise to determine whether a ‘statutory nuisance’ exists.
‘Following the August 2019 event at Bredy Farm, the council received complaints from a number of local residents who were disturbed by the noise.
‘Following investigation, Dorset Council determined there had been a statutory nuisance, which meant that the noise abatement notice, already in place following earlier events, had been contravened. As a result, the council decided to take court action.
‘Despite Dorset Council submitting evidence, including from affected residents and noise recordings, the magistrates felt it was insufficient to state, beyond all reasonable doubt, that a ‘statutory nuisance’ had existed.
‘Whilst they had every sympathy for the complainants, they found in favour of the defendant.
‘Dorset Council accepts the verdict of the magistrates, and we estimate the cost of bringing these proceedings to court was around £10,500.
‘It is hoped that similar enforcement action at Bredy Farm won’t be necessary in the future, given that the organisers have invested in noise reducing measures since the August 2019 event.’
Who was Christine Keeler and what was the Profumo affair?
Born in Middlesex, Christine Keeler moved to London as a teenager and began working at Murray’s Cabaret Club in Soho.
It was there she met Dr Stephen Ward, a high-flying London osteopath and fixer who ‘procured women’ for leading members of the Establishment, who introduced her to Conservative Minister John Profumo while at a party thrown by Lord and Lady Astor in 1961.
The pair hit the headlines after seven shots were fired at Ward’s house in a quiet Marylebone mews by a jilted boyfriend of Keeler a year later in December 1962.
Ms Keeler’s other lovers have included A-Team actor George Peppard, legendary womaniser Warren Beatty and Prisoner of Zenda star Douglas Fairbanks Jr
Ms Keeler, pictured, met Conservative minister Profumo – 27 years her senior – after leaving her home in Middlesex and working at Murray’s Cabaret Club in Soho
Ms Keeler, pictured right, in a vehicle with her friend Mandy Rice-Davies, who was also implicated in the scandal surrounding the affair
It emerged the then 19-year-old Keeler had been sleeping with former Secretary of State for War John Profumo, then 48, and at the same time a handsome Russian spy Evgeny Ivanov.
But when the news broke, Profumo lied to the House of Commons about his affair. He was soon found out and Keeler sold her story to the News of The World for £23,000.
In June 1963, he quit in disgrace, amid allegations Keeler had been asked by Ivanov to discover from the War Minister when the West Germans might receive U.S. nuclear missiles to be stationed on their soil.
Profumo had been a rising star of the Tory Party, close to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, a favoured visitor at Buckingham Palace, a war hero and the dashing husband of actress Valerie Hobson, one of the great beauties of her day.
Ms Keeler, whose other lovers have included A-Team actor George Peppard, legendary womaniser Warren Beatty and Prisoner of Zenda star Douglas Fairbanks Jr, said in an interview years later that the Establishment was far more interested in painting it as a sex scandal and chose to ignore whispered claims of a widespread spying network.
Christine died aged 75 in December 2017.