Dick Whittington and his cat are popular characters in children's stories throughout the English-speaking world.

During the stories, Whittington travels to London to make his fortune, and he wins many friends thanks to the rat-catching activities of his cat.

A real person, Dick Whittington was elected, by the people of London, as Lord Mayor (not to be confused with Mayor) of London three times - in 1398, 1406 and 1419.

Now the current Lord Mayor of London, Ian Luder, is also having his own adventures with a cat...

Police called in after London's Lord Mayor falls out with his neighbours over a dead cat

By Daily Mail Reporter
13th October 2008
Daily Mail

Not since Dick Whittington has a cat caused such a stir for a Lord Mayor.

The new mayor of the City of London, Ian Luder, is caught up in a bizarre feud with his neighbours over a dead cat.

Police were called to investigate a complaint of alleged offensive behaviour against his third wife Lin, who has also been branded a '****'.

No charges were ever brought but the dispute is embarrassing for Mr Luder, 57, a City accountant who was elected Lord Mayor last week and will take up his post next month.

The row, which goes back to 2005, is between the Luders and Tony and Debbie Pay, who had a pet called 'Fat Cat'.

Dispute: Neighbours Debbie and Tony Pay allege the Luders locked the cat in their house

Much loved: 'Fat Cat' the feline

The couples are neighbours in the Bedfordshire village of Riseley, where the Luders have a weekend home.

The Luders have been accused of locking Fat Cat in their home when they travelled to work in London.

Mrs Pay, a mother of two, alleges the pet was shut in for 36 hours in November 2005, leaving her family searching frantically.

The Luders had apparently taken a shine to Fat Cat, but the Pays demanded they stop feeding the animal, who was overweight and had a heart condition.

This request apparently left the Luders deeply upset.

In January 2006, Mrs Luder wrote to her neighbours pleading to be allowed to feed and care for him.

'Fat Cat should have the choice of where and what he wants to do, not all of us,' she wrote.

'If I do not hear from you on this matter today, I will presume you do not want a reasonable neighbourly agreement.'

Mrs Luder, understood to be head of IT for a U.S. law firm in the City, concluded: 'This letter is to formally confirm to you that we do not wish you to enter our garden at any time . . . this includes not coming to our front door.'

There was a series of apparent ***-for-tat grievances. The local council ordered a security light pointing into the Luders' garden to be dimmed.

There were complaints about motorbikes ridden up a path by the Pays' son. The Pays reported a hedge that needed trimming and a radio being played too loudly.

In April 2006, Mrs Pay, a 49-year-old accountant with Abbey, called police, alleging Mrs Luder verbally abused her. Mrs Pay also accused her neighbour of 'being a ****'.

She said: '[Mrs Luder] got extremely abusive and started ranting at me. She was screaming at us she would be our neighbour from hell and drive us out of the house if we wouldn't let her feed the cat.

'It amazes me he has become Lord Mayor. She was the main instigator but he backed her up."

The Luders were unavailable for comment. A City of London spokesman said a mayor-elect does not traditionally give interviews, but the Luders were highly respected in the City.

Mr Luder, who works for Grant Thornton UK, has qualified as a magistrate. He is also a former master of the Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers and his interests include rugby, cricket and gardening.

Cat row: Ian Luder and his third wife, Lin

Bedfordshire police confirmed it was called on two occasions over a dispute between the neighbours, including allegations that obscenities were shouted at Mrs Pay. No charges were brought.

Mr Luder served on Bedford council for many years. But he quit in 1999 after leaving his second wife Liz, a fellow Labour councillor and former mayor of Bedford, for Lin, who was his mistress and 13 years his junior. His affair caused bad blood which still rankles today.

Councillors have voted against making him an honorary alderman of Bedford. His former wife Liz, writing in a local newspaper, said the title was refused because 'all political parties were influenced by Ian's sudden desertion of the children and myself and his all-too-public behaviour surrounding that event'.

Fat Cat, sadly, died this year. But when the Luders move into Mansion House they will take their own pet, Big Ben.