THE millionaire owner of a boarding school has defended accusations of 'land grabbing' in a bitter border dispute with his neighbours.
Cheltenham-based Hekmat Kaveh has been criticised by his neighbours after he sent workmen in to clear a hedge which separated land at the rear of £20,000-a-year Abbey College in Malvern, Worcestershire, from that of Peter Walter, 62, and wife Tia, 54.
The couple have been fighting to have a 20m strip of land registered as theirs and applied to the Land Registry for an adverse possession order.
This enables someone to acquire land which doesn't belong to them by using it for an extended period of time, unless the landowner objects.
Mr and Mrs Walter, who have lived next to the school since 1988, cancelled the bid in May this year.
On June 28, Mr Kaveh, who owns Abbey College, sent in workmen to remove the hedge and erect a fence. Mr Walter said: "If you are having a dispute with somebody, you expect the other side to inform you of any steps they're taking but we had no such letter or notice. It was a private garden with a hedge running along it, it was about six feet high and had been there for years.
"We feel like we've been there for 25 years, quite peacefully with no problems, and suddenly we had people cutting a hedge down which we were completely helpless to do anything about."
Mr Kaveh 55, insisted he had acted within his rights and had a right to clear the land.
He said: "I've got a letter saying the applicant has cancelled their application.
"As they have cancelled, there's no dispute.
"We gave them the opportunity to make their claim in the normal manner.
"I'm the one who's paid for this land. We've been here for 40 years.
"We've gone round the site clarifying the boundary. Taking advantage of the good weather, we decided to do this work and got rid of any vegetation around.
"I'm not a garden grabber, it's the other way round."