BBC gives evidence against off-grid dweller

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Pocock family outside their houseA Scottish crofter has reason to regret making a documentary with the BBC TV station, for which he was paid precisely nothing.

Iain Pocock, whose off-grid lifestyle featured in a television documentary series has lost a damages claim against a Highland Council thanks to evidence given by the broadcaster.

Iain Pocock and his wife Sasha were walking down Baron Taylor Street in Inverness when he caught a foot on the raised edge of a slab and fell with his left leg giving way, allegedly leaving him in excruciating pain.

Mr Pocock claimed that the injury restricted his ability to carry out tasks at the croft at Cougie, near Tomich, in Inverness-shire, where the family led a self-sufficient life.

Court Action

He raised an action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh against Highland Council, suing for £500,000 compensation following the injury he sustained on February 9, 2012.

But the local authority, which denied liability, said that during 2012 and 2013, Mr Pocock and his family were the subject of BBC documentary in which the pursuer’s wife referred to being reliant on a generator for power, and were unable to connect to the national grid because it was too expensive.

In the documentary, Power to the Pococks: A year in the life of a crofting family, reference is made to a quote of £230,000 to connect to the grid and Mrs Pocock saying they do not have the money “unless they win the lottery”.

Various parts of the documentary were played during the action.

Lord Clark referred to excerpts which showed Mr Pocock carrying out activities such as using an axe and a chainsaw to cut firewood, carrying out maintenance of a wind turbine by climbing up a metal scaffold, kneeling while milking, sliding on ice and “spinning round a pole in a barn”.

Lord Clark acknowledged evidence from Mr Pocock and documentary director, Stephen Bennett, that filming did not take place during periods when the pursuer was in pain. But the judge said: “It may be the case that the pursuer’s evidence to some degree over-emphasised the effects of the accident and the BBC documentary supported the view that his injuries were not quite so severe as he had stated, but I regard any difference as being largely immaterial.”

It was also contended in the action that there was a duty by the council to repair a paving defect with a height difference greater than 20mm within seven days, or at most within 21 days. But the judge concluded that Mr Pocock had failed to establish the key factual basis of this case – that the defect in the paving slab at its date of identification involved a height difference greater than 20mm.

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