Madonna wants no trespassing

The showbiz couple Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie have launched an appeal against the rights of ramblers to walk across their £9 million country estate.

The couple were not present at the inquiry into the dispute over land at their 1,200 acre home, Ashcombe House, on the Wiltshire-Dorset border.

The row follows the Countryside Agency decision to include areas of the the couple's estate as open country under new powers granted to it by the Government under the Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000.

Mr and Mrs Ritchie are contesting the decision to assign about 100 acres of their land as open countryside. Under the new law, the public have a right to walk over land in this category.

They believe the decision would breach their human rights by creating an infringement of their privacy by allowing public access to their land, inform

According to BBC the hearing, headed by the Planning Inspectorate, is expected to take up to five days.

David Elvin QC, representing Madonna and her husband, told the inquiry that 12 pieces of land were still subject to dispute and his clients believed they had been wrongly labelled by the agency.

Mr Elvin said that the appeal by the Ritchies was only the third by landowners to be heard against the provisional map of all land in England created by the Agency.

The parties at the inquiry, including representatives from the Countryside Agency and the Ramblers' Association, were expected to take a two-hour tour of the disputed land on the estate on Wednesday afternoon.

Madonna's fight is one of several currently being fought between landowners and hikers - "ramblers" as they are known in Britain.

The Ramblers Association describes gaining access to open country as a benefit to the whole nation and one Times newspaper editorial advised Madonna and Ritchie that they should not be feared.

"Ramblers are unworldly types who will - unthinkable as it seems -probably never have heard of her, being far more concerned with their maps in little waterproof covers, their flasks of sweet tea and cling-filmed picnics of cheese sandwiches and fruit cake," it said.

Madonna has not always enjoyed the backing of the English press since she married Ritchie, with a columnist for the tabloid Daily Mail offering a particularly trenchant opinion following reports she was considering moving back to the United States.

"Good riddance," he wrote. "Madonna the Brit was a classic case of the rich, crass, clueless American playing at English, reports

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