Salisbury Magistrates have cleared the Earl of Cardigan of damaging a nurses car in Savernake Hospital and driving away, due to lack of evidence.

But David Brudenell-Bruce, of Savernake Lodge didn’t completely get away with it, as he got fined £350 for driving with no insurance.

Brudenell-Bruce, 67, was accused of crashing his BMW 535i while in Savernake hospital car park, causing damage to a rear wheel arch and the bumper, and then leaving the scene. He also faced charges of driving without due care and attention on November 20 last year.

But the court said there was no case to answer due to lack of evidence presented.

A warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to attend the original hearing at Salisbury Magistrates' Court last November.

“I had had a bad accident on my motorbike the day before,” he said.

“I was driving through Savernake, and a couple of deer ran in front of me, sending me spinning into a tree. I was there for hours, and was not in a fit state to attend the hearing,” he said. " I was lying in the Emergency Department of Swindon Hospital that morning."

The court dismissed the case as no evidence was offered, but he changed his plea to guilty for driving with no insurance and on top of the £350 fine, he was ordered to pay £30 surcharge and £85 costs.

Eton-educated Bruce is a distant descendent of Jane Seymour, the third wife of King Henry VIII, and has been the Hereditary Warden of the only privately owned (4,500 acre ) forest in England, the Savernake Forest, Wilts, since 1987.

His family trust granted a lease to an American firm in 2005 to turn Tottenham House, his historic ancestral home, into a luxury golf resort, but the firm went bust in the recession.

In the following row between the Earl and the trustees of the Savernake Estate, Lord Cardigan was embroiled in a bitter dispute over plans to sell family silver.

He also ended up in court in 2013, accused of assaulting trustee John Moore after losing a High Court legal battle to stop paintings being sold. However, he was cleared by magistrates.

In 2013, he claimed he was so broke because he no longer had access to his own money that he had been forced to take up job as a delivery driver and was even on Jobseeker's Allowance.

Lord Cardigan was finally able to access his family's money again in 2017, when he won a High Court case to oust the trustees he had hired to manage it.