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Totnes Conservatives took donation from wealthy landowner who fought wild camping on Dartmoor

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Totnes Conservatives took donation from wealthy landowner who fought wild camping on Dartmoor

Totnes MP Anthony Mangnall has responded after news broke that the local Conservative Association had received a donation from Alexander Darwall, the millionaire landowner who fought against wild camping. 

Anthony Mangnall MP registered a £5,000 donation to Totnes Conservative Association from Alexander Darwalls in 2020.  

Mr Darwall is the wealthy landowner who challenged the right to wild camp on Dartmoor, where he owns a 4,000-acre estate, at the High Court. When he won his case, it essentially removed the right to wild camp from the whole of England and Wales. 

Read our full story here: Right to wild camp on Dartmoor is lost in court case 

He has commented to say that the donation "did not go to me personally" but didn't comment on the legal decision that removed the right to wild camp on Dartmoor last week, saying that MPs "should not and do not comment on legal cases”.

However, many other MPs have commented on the situation now that the case is closed. 

Luke Pollard, the Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, was quoted by The Guardian as saying: “People in Plymouth and across the south-west cherish Dartmoor as the only national park where wild camping remained legal. It is wrong to outlaw this long-held tradition to appease the shortsighted interest of a select few.”

The case was also mentioned yesterday in the House of Commons by the shadow environment secretary, Jim McMahon, who said the ruling was “seemingly putting the financial interest of one person above the fundamental access rights that have been provided for in this house”.

Mr Mangnall MP's full statement reads: "I should say from the outset that I am 100% supportive of the right to roam across our national parks and fully appreciate the benefits of outdoor exercise. I have spent quite some time as the Member of Parliament for Totnes working on how we can keep public footpaths up to scratch, and even more time working on how we can improve outdoor learning, including ensuring that people are able to make use of what is on their doorstep.

"Regarding the High Court’s decision about wild camping, I do not believe it is right for a Member of Parliament to second guess legal experts, especially given the independence of the courts. However, it is clear that the decision is a huge disappointment to many people, both locally and nationally, and I understand that Dartmoor National Park Authority is considering its next steps. Please note, there is no question as to the public’s right to walk and ride on the commons, and everyone may continue to do so.

"Regarding the donation Mr Darwall gave to the Totnes Conservative Association, I should make it clear that this money did not go to me personally but to my association. That donation was given in late 2019 and no further donations have been made. This donation was in line with the rules set out by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

"Our countryside is of great importance and over the coming days, I will be working to see how we might be able to secure extra funding from central government to attract more people to this extraordinary part of Devon."


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