GLOUCESTERSHIRE Police and the Forest Council acted unlawfully in seizing and selling 55 sheep belonging to shepherd Jeremy Awdry, a judge has ruled.

Judge Robert Harrison made the judgment on Friday at Cardiff County Court having earlier presided over a five-day hearing in November 2018 in which the Forest of Dean District Council and Gloucestershire Police took Mr Awdry to court using a Victorian law over the ‘uplifting’ of the shepherd’s livestock.

The judge ordered both bodies to pay compensation to Mr Awdry along with 67 per cent of his legal costs.

Mr Awdry, 70, known throughout the Forest of Dean as a sheep badger - someone who has the right by birth to graze sheep anywhere in the Forest - under ancient commoning laws.

However despite the tradition being carried out for over 500 years, residents of Bream complained to Gloucestershire Police, the district authority and West Dean Parish Councils in 2013 relating to sheep mess, property being damaged and the animals becoming a highway hazard.