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I am delighted to have won my first battle but I have not won the war.

Byline: By TONY TODD

A retired army captain yesterday won the first round of his battle against police who stopped him rescuing heirlooms from a blaze at his country manor. Capt Edmund Carlisle, 83, hopes to claim compensation from the force over the pounds 723,000 fire at his 16th century mansion. A judge yesterday gave the go-ahead for a full trial where war veteran Capt Carlisle can sue police who stopped him saving his possessions.

Capt Carlisle and wife Rosemary, 82, leapt into action when the blaze broke out at his rural retreat near Hay-on-Wye.

He dialled 999 and the pair began rescuing their collection of antique furniture and Victorian oil paintings from the burning house.

But when police officers arrived they ordered the couple out of their home for their own safety in case they were trapped by the fire. Capt Carlisle refused and was arrested, to be thrown into the back of a police van.

The Grade II Tudor manor house worth pounds 580,000 was gutted in the blaze with pounds 143,000 of possessions destroyed.

A judge at Cardiff High Court yesterday granted Capt Carlisle the right to trial by jury for wrongful arrest by Dyfed-Powys Police. If the former Life Guard, who served in India, wins his case he hopes to be compensated for the 2003 blaze.

His barrister Dr Michael Arnheim said, 'Instead of a quick response from the fire service, eight police officers swarmed onto Capt Carlisle's property making a nuisance of themselves.

'They took hold of Captain Carlisle, assaulted him and made his situation worse by not allowing him to rescue his possessions. Neither would they let him direct fire crews when they finally arrived at his home.

'He was stuck in a little cage in the back of a police van while his wife was held in another.

'The police at best misunderstood their duty to save life and limb and in doing so made the situation so much worse.'

The court heard police alerted fire crews in Brecon and Hereford, both more than 30 miles away from Capt Carlisle's home at Penyrwrlodd Farm, at Llanigon.

He claims the fire was contained in an outhouse and he had 'plenty of time' to rescue his possessions. He also claims police failed to notify the fire service in time, resulting in a half-hour delay and the complete destruction of his property.

Dr Arnheim said, 'There was no fire raging in the part of the house where Capt Carlisle was busy saving his possessions. The fire was contained in a boiler room at the rear of the building.'

The six-bedroom house, near Brecon Beacons National Park, was gutted by the fire. Capt Carlisle said the property was under-insured.

Father-of-two Capt Carlisle, who farms 300 acres, is living at a cottage on his estate.

He said after the case, 'I am delighted to have won my first battle but I have not won the war. I'm not afraid of taking the police on - I've always been prepared to stick my head above the parapet.'
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 18, 2006
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