LANCASHIRE County Council has been ordered to pay the author of a Pendle Witch walking guide more than £19,000 for illegally copying his work.

The local authority twice used extracts from Ian Thornton-Bryar’s booklet on its Forest of Bowland website without his permission.

The keen walker had published The Lancashire Witches Walk Guide for the 400th anniversary of the trial of nine women from Pendle hanged for witchcraft in 1612.

In 2014 he discovered chunks of his work on the Forest of Bowland website and the county council agreed to take down its The Lancashire Witches Walk and promote his guide instead.

In mid-April 2016, Mr Thornton-Bryar discovered the authority had put a new version of their guide on the website still containing significant amounts of his text.

The author then took the county council to the a Small Claims Court where District Judge Janet Lambert ruled in his favour and awarded him damages of £19,187 plus costs and ordered an injunction preventing the authority republishing his work.

Judge Lamber said: “In my judgment, the Council has copied a substantial part of Mr Thornton-Bryar’s work.

“These actions were a deliberate and calculated infringement of copyright, or at the very least they amounted to a couldn’t care less attitude.”

She awarded Mr Thornton-Bryar £9,187.50 compensation for lost sales and royalties and a further £10,000 for flagrant infringement of the copyright law.

Mr Thornton-Bryar said his four-day Pendle Witches Walk was a popular ramble which was featured on ITV as one of ‘Britain’s favourite walks’ and that sales of the 1,500 copies of his booklet plummeted after that county council version went back on the website in late 2015.

Judge Lambert said the words and phrases used in the Forest of Bowland website version could only have come from the original guide booklet.

Intellectual Property lawyer Rebecca Horne of Blackburn’s Taylors Solicitors who acted on behalf of Mr Thornton-Bryar, said : “It’s really been a David v Goliath case with an individual taking on the might and resources of a local authority. We’re delighted with the result”

Mr Thornton-Bryar said “My aim in writing The Lancashire Witches Walk Guide was to encourage sustainable tourism and to promote the history of the Lancashire Witches.

“I wanted to bring walkers and ramblers back to the countryside to enjoy its natural beauty. I am glad to get resolution to what was a long and pointless fight. I am now doing talks around the area I am living now.”

Elliott Lorimer, the county council's principal officer for the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, said: ""We are sorry about what's happened in this case. We are not looking to appeal."