£100,000 battle over 53-year-old classic bike

Motorcycle enthusiasts duel it out over ownership of vintage Velocette

A Velocette MOV, similar to the bike at the centre of the row

TWO MOTORCYCLE enthusiasts are set to enter a legal battle over ownership of a 53-year-old classic bike, says a report on today's expressandstar.com

South Staffordshire farmer Anthony Barrett and Birmingham businessman John Marston are locked in dispute over which one of the men has legal rights over the ownership of a Velocette 250cc MOV, which was stolen from the Mr Barrett's farm in September 2003.
After its disappearance the machine was innocently bought by Birmingham businessman John Marston. It is understood that he purchased it from a legitimate dealer for an undisclosed amount.

Mr Barrett eventually traced the machine after placing an advert on internet auction site ebay last October, offering a £5,000 reward for its return. He is claiming up to £50,000 damages in a legal action that experts estimate could cost both sides up to £20,000 each in costs if it goes to trial. Court papers conclude that publication of the ebay piece “severely damaged” the reputation of Mr Marston and caused “considerable hurt and distress.”

Mr Marston said at his home in Harborne: “I am a man of good character who has been collecting historic motorcycles for many years. Hopefully the matter can be settled fairly quickly without having to go all the way to the High Court.”

Mr Barrett, who had reportedly turned down a £25,000 offer for the bike before it was stolen, said at his home in Essington: “It was my property, remains my property and I will never give up ownership of it.”