Farmer loses licence after Lords trip

WELL-KNOWN Suffolk farmer Michael Paul has been banned from driving – but is today still able to ride his combine harvester on his 3,200 acre estate.Paul, vice chairman of Kirton Parish Council, was disqualified from the public roads after being caught over the drink-drive limit as he returned from a day out to see a cricket match.

WELL-KNOWN Suffolk farmer Michael Paul has been banned from driving - but is today still able to ride his combine harvester on his 3,200 acre estate.

Paul, vice chairman of Kirton Parish Council, was disqualified from the public roads after being caught over the drink-drive limit as he returned from a day out to see a cricket match.

British Transport Police at Manningtree Station hid behind a bus as they waited for Paul to get into his car.

A BT Police spokesman said officers had been alerted by a complaint from a member of staff to a group of "drunken men" believed to be returning from the England-West Indies Test match at Lord's.

Officers who went to investigate found the men concerned had jumped in their cars and gone, except Paul.

He was seen urinating against a fence and then appeared to be aware that officers were watching him.

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"He waited for us to disappear before leaving, but we waited and hid behind a bus and then arrested him as he drove away from the station," said a spokesman.

Paul, of Kirton Lodge, Kirton, was arrested and taken to Colchester police station on suspicion of drink-driving.

The Transport Police spokesman said a breath test on an intoximeter found he had 61 mcg in 100 millilitres of breath - the limit is 35 mcg.

After the incident on July 24, Paul was bailed to appear at Colchester Magistrates' Court on August 5.

He pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol and was banned from driving for 16 months, and fined £400 with £43 costs. He was told if he attends an alcohol rehabilitation course, the disqualification will be reduced by four months.

Paul declined to comment but a family member said he was "absolutely mortified" by having to appear in court.

"He is full of remorse. He has taken the rap and is now paying the price and is off the road. It was an extremely foolish thing to have done," they said.

Paul has been helping his estate workers with the harvest this week, and a police spokeswoman said he was allowed to drive on his own private land as long as he did not venture onto public roads.

The Paul family has owned and farmed the Kirton estate for generations. They have 3,200 acres bordering the Deben estuary.

The arable land varies from very light to reclaimed marshland, producing various crops including winter wheat, industrial spring and winter barley, oilseed rape, potatoes and sugar beet.

There are 175 acres of set aside and around 200 acres rented out for potato production. Two sets of buildings and an area of grassland are let out to tenants and there is also a shoot which is partially available for letting.

The estate is committed to conservation and the countryside and carries out much work to protect wildlife habitat and the environment surrounding the village near Felixstowe.

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