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Man accused of cutting down iconic Sycamore Gap tree speaks out

A retired lumberjack accused on social media of felling one of Britain’s most famous trees, has hit back after being quizzed by police.

Walter Renwick, 69, was taken into custody at the weekend before denying he cut down the 300-year-old landmark at Sycamore Gap along Hadrian’s Wall.

Three police vans were in the driveway at Plankey Mill farm, eight miles from the scene in Northumberland, while at least seven officers conducted a search on Saturday.

Mr Renwick, has been ordered to quit the property where he ran a tourist campsite after losing a two-year legal battle.

During the case, he said: ‘I was born here. It is like a tree with roots.’

Mr Renwick said he was not ‘stupid’ enough to cut down the tree, and relatives said he wasn’t in good enough health to commit the crime.

The speculation is bloody ridiculous,’ Mr Renwick told the Mail. ‘I’ll tell you this much, I wouldn’t be so sad to do that.’

‘It was a lovely tree, an iconic tree, but I mean to go up there and cut that down, I’m not that stupid.’

He added: ‘It makes it sound like me, doesn’t it, because it was a good cut,’ he said, referring to the clean way the tree had been cut down.

‘It was dark obviously but it was a lovely moonlit night… the cut was brilliant.

‘When I say brilliant, you can tell a good lumberjack by the way he cuts a tree down. I haven’t seen the cut obviously, but I have seen it on the computer.’

Detectives continued to investigate after claims that the damage was done by ‘a professional who knew where they were going to cut’ on a windy night during 83mph Storm Agnes which would possibly have disguised the sound of a chainsaw.

The 70ft tree — which featured in 1991 Kevin Costner movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves — was attacked in the dark between Wednesday and Thursday last week.

On Friday, Mr Renwick told The Sun: ‘I didn’t do it.’

But he conceded: ‘I am a former lumberjack and I have just been kicked off my property, so I can see why people have pointed the finger.’

On Friday night, Northumbria Police said they had arrested a man in his 60s and held him overnight.

And last night Mr Renwick’s family confirmed to The Sunday Times that he was in police custody.

Police had previously arrested a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of causing criminal damage, then released him on bail pending further inquiries.

Mr Renwick used to run Plankey Mill farm and campsite but was recently evicted by his landlords, the Jesuits, who are a Catholic order.

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