Ramblers disputes Madonna 'figure of hate' tactics blame

The Ramblers' Association has denied turning Madonna into a "hate figure" in a public inquiry into whether walkers can roam on land owned by the star.

Madonna's lawyers are seeking to block the right of walkers to come within 200m of her house on the Ashcombe estate in Wiltshire.

The inquiry, which was launched last week, is one of dozens being held following the implementation of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which opens up large estates to walkers.

The Ramblers' Association, which led the campaign that resulted in the Act, has made written submissions to the inquiry.

The charity's spokesman Paul Bell said: "There have been claims by some landowners that certain pressure groups have turned Madonna into a figure of hate, but this is nonsense.

"She has never tried to close off or divert the existing rights of way on her estate. We know that privacy is the main issue for her, and she is perfectly entitled to follow the procedure laid down by the Act," he said.

The inquiry is due to end later this summer.

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