There was a rare glimpse of how the other half lives in this report in the Telegraph yesterday, and elsewhere. One does not often come across the word 'scion' whilst reading the papers (and quite why the word 'descendant' will not do for the aristocracy, I don't know), but here it was, in all its glory. The story concerns the wonderfully named Anthony Arbuthnot Watkins Grubb, "a scion of one of Sussex's top landed families", whose wife is seeking an occupation order, ousting him from his ancestral home, the Mayes Estate, East Grinstead, which has been in his family for many generations.
Now, occupation orders are made all the time, and obviously this story would not have made the news if it had concerned Mr and Mrs Smith of Walnut Grove, Milton Keynes. The clear implication to me is that somehow the aristocracy should be treated differently from the plebs with whom they most certainly do not rub shoulders. I'm not suggesting that this is how Mr Grubb is thinking, but rather that that is my impression from the publicity that this story has gained. I hope I'm wrong, and I cling to the belief that the law treats all members of society equally. It does, doesn't it?
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UPDATE: The report of Mr Grubb's application for permission to appeal against the occupation order has now appeared on Bailii. The application was refused, primarily because Mr grubb had other accommodation available. Lord Justice Wilson said: "An occupation order is always serious, and no doubt can sometimes be particularly serious when it relates to a spouse's removal from what one might almost call his ancestral home. But the occupation order is likely to carry its greatest level of seriousness when it is made against a spouse to whom alternative accommodation is not readily available ... In the present case immediate separation was not only "beneficial" but "necessary" and ... the only way of achieving it was to evict the husband, to whom his property at Garden Gate was readily available and who in any event had massive resources with which to fund his comfortable accommodation elsewhere."