"Oh dear" said the man from the council looking at the damage to my Mum and Dads old Yew tree. "You can't prove anything you see." he said "She could say you have damaged your own tree. We don't have the resources to prosecute anyway even if we could prove it. You will have to take out a private prosecution." So that's it. The moral of the story is you can do what you want in life to other people's property as long as you don't get caught!
My Dad was really defiant after the council man had left. "That tree is never being cut down while I'm alive." he said "It can stand dead, casting shade on her garden for evermore as far as I'm concerned." So that's that then..