Tuesday 27 September 2016

Bank receivers regain possession of farm belonging to 'Ireland's Fittest Family'

Injunctions sought after the receivers claimed the Kingstons had unlawfully re-taken possession of the farm

Aodhan O'Faolain

Published 16/08/2016 | 15:18

TV FAME: From left, Richard, Jessica, Peter and Luke Kingston on ‘Ireland’s Fittest Family’ where they scooped €15,000. Photo: Gerard McCarthy
TV FAME: From left, Richard, Jessica, Peter and Luke Kingston on ‘Ireland’s Fittest Family’ where they scooped €15,000. Photo: Gerard McCarthy

Bank appointed receivers have regained possession of the farm belonging to former winners of RTE's "Ireland's Fittest Family" entertainment programme, the High Court heard on Tuesday.

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Last Thursday receivers Kieran Wallace and David Swinburne of KPMG secured a temporary High Court injunction against Peter Kingston, his wife, Tracey, and their son Richard, in respect of their 170 acre farm at Crayden Hill, Nohoval, Co Cork.

The injunctions had been sought after the receivers claimed the Kingstons had earlier this month unlawfully re-taken possession of the farmland the receivers had taken charge of last December.

The retaking of the farmland was something the Kingstons, who won the RTE television programme in 2014, were not entitled to do and they were now trespassing, it was claimed. 

High Court President, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, was told today that the receivers had regained possession of the farmland last Friday.

Barrister Stephen B. Byrne, counsel for the receivers, who were appointed by ACC Loan Management, told High Court President Mr Justice Peter Kelly today that the receivers had regained possession of the farm and the injunction was now being complied with.

Peter Kingston, who represented himself, told the court he was somewhat taken by surprise by the receivers proceedings as he had been away on a "religious retreat" but accepted Judge Kelly's contention the matter had not "come out of the blue" given there had been correspondence with the receiver's lawyers prior to the injunctions being sought.

Mr Kingston said he had gone back onto the land to deal with ragwort growth and to feed animals.

Mr Kingston he "took exception" to claims made on behalf of the receivers that the farm, which included a thousand head of cattle, was in a poor state of affairs and required considerable expense by the bank to rectify.

He said 11 cattle had died in the six months prior to him handing over possession of the land last December but since the receivers had taken charge 200 had died.

Mr Byrne told the court that any suggestion the farm was not in a poor state when the receivers took possession last year would be "hotly contested," by his clients.

Mr Justice Kelly agreed to adjourn the case for two weeks with the injunction to remain in place against all parties. This was to allow Mr Kingston prepare a sworn statement in response to the receivers claims. 

ACC Loan Manaagement, which is owed €2.4m by  Peter and  Tracey Kingston arising out of two mortgage agreements the parties had entered into almost 10 years ago, claims the farmland had been put up as security.

The Kingston's farm was at the centre of related High Court proceedings in April this year when Cork County Sheriff, Sinead McNamara, who was in the process of selling the Kingstons herd of 1000 cattle, secured injunctions against businessman Jerry Beades and his New Land League group.

It was claimed Beades and members of his group had engaged in protests over the proposed sale of the herd and Ms McNamara was granted an injunction preventing anyone interfering with the auction.

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