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Shock for Sir Benjamin Slade as armed police descend on Maunsel House
5:14pm Thursday 8th August 2013 in News
A SEDGEMOOR aristocrat who posed with a semi-automatic rifle outside his country home was stunned when armed police swooped on his property - in the middle of a wedding.
Sir Benjamin Slade, 67, was pictured with an ex-military SLR rifle in publicity shots surrounding the alleged sighting of a mysterious big cat on his 88-acre estate at Maunsel House, North Newton.
But the pictures prompted a call to the police amid concerns that Sir Benjamin had breached his firearms licence.
Officers telephoned Sir Benjamin four days prior to the wedding to warn him they would be inspecting his collection, but he says they would not reschedule despite his pleas to delay.
A team of armed officers later raided Maunsel House, as a wedding party who had hired the venue sat down for their meal.
Officers inspected the weapon but were satisfied it was decommissioned and no action was taken.
Sir Benjamin said it was the fourth time his weapons collection - which includes an AK47 and a 12-bore shotgun - had been inspected by police.
He was fined £2,000 last May for failing to keep a shotgun in a locked cabinet after a raid which saw 18 armed officers, backed up by helicopters, swoop in on his home.
The baronet, whose family have lived in Maunsel House since 1772, said: "They wanted to go through the whole house and stay for longer but we would not let them.
"I am just trying to enjoy life but I keep having to deal with this and I am a bit bored of it now.
"Last time there were 18 officers who came during another wedding with a helicopter, robots and roadblocks.
"They were walking around with their guns, searching the house, I am surprised I did not have a heart attack.
"And it is bound to happen again.”
Supt Ian Wylie, from Avon and Somerset police, said: "We received a call from a member of the public who was concerned about a firearm.
"We attended a property to carry out a check but are satisfied that the weapon is decommissioned.
"We take all calls about firearms very seriously and need to make sure that firearms very seriously and need to make sure that firearms holders have appropriate licenses."
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