TV star faces massive payout after falsely accusing neighbour of pig sex
An actress who falsely claimed she saw her neighbour having sex with one of her pigs has been ordered to pay £32,000 (€37,000) in compensation for damages.
The BBC report on the bizarre case involving Sharon Hamilton, who has appeared in ITV hit Doc Martin.
Hamilton, 54, claimed her neighbour, Anton Barkhuysen, 72, lured her pigs with doughnuts before having sex with one of them.
The pair had previously fallen out over a fence and on New Year's Day 2013 she made her bizarre claims to the police.
This resulted in Barkhuysen being arrested, questioned and examined by police.
He sued her for harassment, slander and false imprisonment and in the High Court yesterday he was awarded damages of £32,080 (€37,387).
In court the judge, Mr Justice Warby, said the allegation was a lie and she made it worse by hinting at it to another resident of the small village of Tregolls in Cornwall.
She said to them that Barkhuysen had done something "unspeakable" with an animal before adding: "You have no idea what sort of man you are living next to, you need to keep an eye on your children when he is around," according to the court.
Later in 2013 Hamilton also went to the church that Barkhuysen attended and told a steward that he should not be around children.
The judge ruled that her comments amounted to slander.
"Allegations of sexual offending against animals and against children are at the upper end of the scale of gravity," he said.
"The pig allegation is not just improbable. Having heard all the evidence and argument, I am convinced that it is false.
"It was an invention by the defendant. It led directly to the claimant's arrest and detention by the police."
The judge also determined that some of Barkhuysen's behaviour regarding the fence could be deemed as 'bullying'.
Costs in the case were estimated to be in the region of £200,000 (€233,000) and Hamilton may also be forced to pay those when the judge rules on costs.