Gypsies and travellers were discriminated against by Eric Pickles, the top politician in charge of community cohesion and harmony.

The High Court ruled groups of Roma gypsies had their human rights impacted by the communities secretary.

Pickles elected to take on cases about traveller sites, normally handled by planning inspectors. As a result, cases were delayed and took up to six months for a ruling, meaning Pickles fell foul of the Equality Act's imposition to avoid indirect discrimination.

The sites in question were often located on green belt land, with sensitivities about habitation and development on the spots. But two claimants from Romany and Irish groups claimed they should be entitled to camp on the green belt due to special circumstances.

Planning Minister Brandon Lewis, responding to the judgment, said: "This government makes no apologies for seeking to safeguard Green Belt protection and trying to bring a sense of fair play to the planning system.

"The government's planning policy is clear that both temporary and permanent traveller sites are inappropriate development in the Green Belt.

"Today's judgment does not question that principle."