High Court action against the CRT

A view of the River Trent at Farndon | Charlie Wildgoose, Flickr CC2.0

A view of the River Trent at Farndon | Charlie Wildgoose, Flickr CC2.0 - Credit: Archant

The owner of a narrowboat seized from the River Trent has launched a test case to get back the money he paid for the return of his ‘pride and joy’

Leigh Ravenscroft was mooring his boat Grandma Molly (formerly Three Wise Monkeys) at Farndon, near Newark, when it was seized by officials in January last year.

The Canal & River Trust (CRT) claimed he needed to pay for a boat licence.

But as his boat was not moored in the river’s ‘main navigable channel’, Mr Ravenscroft rejected that such a licence was necessary.

Mr Ravenscroft had to pay more than £8,000 for the alleged arrears, as well as removal, storage and legal costs, before his boat – which he describes as his ‘pride and joy’, having restored it himself – returned to him.

He is now launching a High Court test case, seeking the return of the money. The seizure was a “disproportionate” measure and should only have been used as a last resort, he insisted.

The case has raised issues of “some importance both to the boating fraternity and to the Trust”, said senior court official, Chief Master Matthew Marsh.

When his case is heard in London next year, Mr Ravenscroft will be represented in court free of charge by Nigel Moore, who has experience in litigation procedures with the CRT.

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Master Marsh granted permission for Moore to act as a ‘McKenzie friend’ (someone able to assist a litigant despite not being legally qualified) as Mr Ravenscroft is “largely illiterate” due to dyslexia and unable to pay for a lawyer. There were also concerns that “his emotional involvement” might make it difficult to deal with complex legal issues calmly.