Aristocrat loses court battle with parents over ownership of family’s estate

A millionaire has lost a court battle over the family’s 230-year-old estate.

William Reeve, 38, says the future of the 3,000-acre Leadenham Estate, in Lincolnshire, is at risk due to his parents’ divorce.

He claimed the estate had been promised to him by his father and it was ‘unconscionable’ to split it up in the divorce. 

His arguments were last year rejected by a judge, who said any assurances given to him by his father were ‘not sufficiently clear’ to be relied upon.

However, William challenged the ruling saying Judge Evans-Gordon was biased.

The Court of Appeal dismissed claims that the judge was ‘biased’ against him.

William told the court, “The goal of my case is to keep the estate together…my primary aim is securing the future.”

Dismissing his appeal, Lord Justice Baker said there were ‘no grounds whatsoever for thinking that Judge Evans-Gordon was biased.’

Lord Justice Baker said, “Far from supporting William’s assertion that the judge was concealing information from the matrimonial proceedings, the transcript demonstrates conclusively that she was doing her best to ensure that anything relevant to his claim was disclosed to him.


“No fair-minded and informed observer…would conclude that there was any real possibility that Judge Evans-Gordon was biased.”

Man accused father’s best friend of stealing inheritance

A man broke down in court after accusing his father’s best friend of stealing his inheritance.

The court heard that Richard Elliott had discovered his father had signed over the family home to his best friend, Graeme Prance, on the day he died.

Prance, 53, is charged with fraudulently helping himself to £60,000 of his friend’s savings after being granted Power of Attorney over his affairs.

A jury heard Richard Elliott had a “difficult relationship” with his father although the pair lived together.

Through a video link Mr Elliott said, “On the day my dad died Graeme said to me: ‘Did you realise your dad left me the bungalow?’

“He said I was not to worry because I could carry on living there rent free and he would not kick me out on the street.”

Mr Elliott said he “knew for a fact” that his father had left the bungalow to him in his will.

Mr Elliott, who was his father’s principle carer, told the court, “That has unfortunately been taken off me – it breaks my heart.

“It was stolen from me, it was my inheritance. My mum left it to my dad to be passed on to me when he died.”

Prance denies four charges of fraud and the trial continues.





Farmer’s son who ‘doesn’t like cows’ loses inheritance court battle

The son of a farmer has lost an inheritance battle after saying he ‘doesn’t like cows.’


Clive Shaw, 55, went to court after discovering his parents had written him out of their wills.


Mr Shaw claimed that he worked on his parents’ farm from a very young age and did not pursue other career opportunities based on a promise that he would inherit the £1m farm.


However, the parents’ wills do not provide for him and leave the bulk of the estate to his sister.


Mr Shaw’s mother claims that he “hated the cows” on the farm and that he was incapable of managing the business.


His sister told the High Court in London that he often calls cows “stinking, horrible, rotten creatures.”


Judge Linwood said, “There was a family expectation that Clive, as the eldest child and only son, would inherit the farm – in the sense of it being a family business – not purely as an asset, but as a working farm, to be inherited by Clive as a farmer.


“Clive was promised the farm would be his inheritance from about 1978 onwards, but those assurances were conditional upon Clive working properly on the farm in the manner of a dedicated, long-term farmer.”


He added, “However, Clive was not sufficiently interested and his lifestyle choices were such that he did not want to take on the farm and dedicate himself to it, as his interests were elsewhere, in driving and engineering.”




Man is in bitter court battle after his mother, 84, wrote him out of her will

An Oxford professor is in the midst of a £1.25 million High Court battle after his mother cut him out of her will before she died.

Professor Christopher Gosden said his mother Jean Weddell, a distinguished physician, had ‘resolved’ to leave him her Edwardian home in Kennington, south London.

However, after she started a relationship with a female lawyer 37 years her junior, she tore up her will from a decade earlier.

The couple formed a civil partnership in 2007 and by the time Ms Weddell died in 2013, aged 84, she left nothing to her son. Documents lodged at London’s High Court revealed that Ms Weddell gifted much of her estate to her partner.

Professor Gosden, who was given up for adoption by his mother in the 1950s has launched a High Court fight after discovering his mother’s home had been sold without his knowledge in 2010.

Professor Gosden and his wife are suing solicitors who he says were responsible for drawing up the trust agreement, claiming they bungled it  by leaving a loophole which allowed his mother to sell her house without his knowledge. The full trial is set to last four days and will commence later this year.

Mother and Son in Battle over Estate

A mother and her estranged son are in a courtroom battle over a family property.

Pamela Moore and her son Stephen Moore are disputing a 65-acre Grade II listed Manor Farmhouse and estate worth £10 million.

The court heard that Pamela Moore and her son had a strained relationship since he was young.

The matter was exacerbated when Stephen acquired a half share of the farm estate from his uncle in recognition of his commitment to the land, and used money from the partnership to buy himself a sports car which his mother sais was “overly frivolous.”

In 2012, Stephen learned he had been written out of his parent’s mirror wills and that his father had disinherited him of the other half of the farm estate.

That share of the estate was left to Pamela Moore if he died before her. This £5 million share of the estate would then go to Stephen’s sister Julie and her husband.

In 2016, Stephen successfully challenged this decision, claiming that his father had advanced dementia.

In the High Court case, Judge Simon Monty said that Stephen had worked on the farm since childhood, and was entitled to the whole farm.

Mrs Moore has now taken the battle to the Court of Appeal stating that the decision was unfair on her daughter Julie saying the “upsetting family dispute’ has left them “bankrupt in all but name.”

A judgment is expected at a later date.


Mother in dispute with son over family estate

A woman and her estranged son are immersed in a courtroom dispute over a family estate.

After Stephen Moore was written out of his parents will, he successfully challenged the move in 2016, claiming his father, who now lives in a care home and has advanced dementia, repeatedly promised the estate would all be his one day.

Challenging the 2016 decision at the Appeal Court, Pamela Moore’s barrister Christopher Pymont said: “Pamela is the wife in a successful marriage of 50 years with rights to a half share of anything her husband had, should it come to it.”

Mr Pymont added that her husband had full mental capacity when he changed his will and had intended “to protect Pamela” if he died first.

The mother of three has the right to live in her home until her death and has an income from her son. But she is angry she no longer owns or controls any of the family land or money.

Mr Pymont said, “The effect of the judge’s order is that Pamela has no assets left. Roger would have made sure Pamela was well provided for.”

He also said the ruling forced the pair to live “locked together”.

He added: “Where you have parties so divided, it is simply not practical to be living right on top of one another. She’d rather live somewhere else.”


Research reveals relaxed attitudes to wills

New research has found that 30 million British people do not have a will.

The Populus research, conducted by Which? revealed that 61% of British adults do not have a will.

The survey further found that people in England are more likely (42%) than those in Wales (35%) and Scotland (31%) to have made wills.

Darren Stott, managing director of Which? Legal said,

“It’s clear that people don’t appreciate the risks of not having a valid will in place. Even if you think you have nothing worth inheriting, this is often not the case.

“Whatever stage of life you’re at, a will offers peace of mind and ensures that your money, property and other possessions go to the right place.

“Giving money to charity in your will can be a tax efficient way to pass your money on.”





Son goes to court to claim inheritance

A man has gone to court to claim the money his late mother left after her last boyfriend launched a claim for a share.


James Campbell, 35, said his late mother Sarah promised he would have everything when she died.


He also claims her will, drawn up 14 years before her death, handed most of her estate to him.

Mr Campbell faces a court fight with his mother’s last boyfriend, Andrew Banfield, 65, who launched a High Court claim to more than half of Mr Campbell’s inheritance.


Mr Banfield says he and Mrs Campbell lived as ‘husband and wife’ for more than 20 years before her death and says he requires a payout from her estate to buy his own home.


Speaking to the court Mr Campbell said, “She told me on several occasions that all she wanted me to do was to find a lovely woman, buy a house, settle down and have a family.


“It’s what my mother wanted. It was my father’s house and then my mum’s house and my mother left it to me.”


Mr Banfield claims to have moved into her home in 1993 and that they became engaged in 1999.


Mr Campbell, however, denies there was ever an engagement.


For Mr Campbell, barrister Elaine Palser said, “He and Mrs Campbell had an extremely close and loving relationship. It was her long-term desire that he inherit the property. This was his childhood home and he lived there – apart from a short stint away – until he moved into rented accommodation with his girlfriend in 2015, just before his mother’s unexpected death.


“Mrs Campbell wrote to her son before making the will saying how much she adored him and that her estate ‘is all yours.’ She told her friends the property was James’.”



Ms Palser argued that Mr Banfield is not entitled to anything from the estate aside from a £5,000 gift which Mrs Campbell left him in her will.


The hearing continues.

Disinherited nephew faked uncle’s will

A man who was left out of his late uncle’s will has been accused of doctoring another version of the will, reinstating his claim and reducing that of other family members, a court has heard.

William Venning, 55, faces charges of conspiring to make a false instrument, conspiring to pervert the course of justice, fraud and converting criminal property.


Venning had originally been a beneficiary in his uncle Peter Ascott’s will. However, after Venning split from his wife, Ascott removed Venning from his will.

Sally Clarke, 57, and Stephen Martin, 52, are also accused of  conspiring to make a false instrument and conspiring to pervert the course of justice charges for allegedly signing the falsified will as witnesses.

Prosecuting barrister Jason Beal told the court,

“These three defendants all played a role in the forging a subsequent use of the will of Peter Ascott. Venning was disinherited by Peter Ascott and wanted to get it back. He did so by producing a will we say was a forgery, either signing it himself or getting somebody else to do it.”

Mr Beal added,

“Hedley Venning was married to Susan Venning for about 20 years but in 2010 Venning and his wife began to have marriage difficulties and separated, a separation which was far from amicable.

“They divorced in December 2011. Susan Venning and Mr Ascott were also very close and following the break-up Mr Ascott took the side of Mrs Venning and made it clear he disapproved of how Hedley had behaved.

“Peter Ascott was a man with strong religious and moral values and his relationship with Hedley Venning soured. As a result of the way he thought his nephew had behaved he decided to change the terms of his will.”


Mr Beal further said: “Sally Clarke and Stephen Martin said they’d been present when Peter Ascott signed the will.

“The third will was examined. It was mostly typed and had a few handwritten entries. One was said to be the signature of Peter Ascott but was not his signature. A handwriting expert examined it and said it showed a pictorial similarity but differed in fluency featuring a number of unexpected pen lifts.

“Hedley Venning used the opportunity to disinherit those he had fallen out with and also took ownership of a Honda Jazz motor car which he sold for £4,000.”

All three defendants deny the charges against them.

The trial continues.


Carer who guided dying millionaire’s will is stripped of her money

A carer who ‘guided the hand’ of her dying millionaire employer as he signed over almost half his £1million fortune to her family has been stripped of the money.


Donna Henderson is alleged to have helped retired banker Marcel Chu sign a will which handed her and her children half of his estate.


Chu had earlier made a will in 2008, dividing his estate between his immediate family and a close friend.


However, the ‘surprising’ deathbed will, dated May 9 2014, just two days before Chu died, left 40% of his wealth to Mrs Henderson and her children.


A handwriting expert concluded that the signature on the will was not Marcel’s and the judge ruled that the dying man lacked mental capacity when the document was signed.


High Court judge Nigel Price has now ruled the will invalid.


Henderson now faces £85,000 in legal costs.


Giving his ruling, Judge Price said: ‘The siblings’ case is that the 2014 will is invalid, or that the circumstances of its making were so suspicious that it cannot be regarded as valid…It may be that it is permissible for a testator to be helped in signing a document, but the scope of such assistance must be limited.


‘There is a distinction between leading and steadying the hand. The distinction is to be drawn when assistance goes so far as to lead in the formation of the letters.’


He added, ‘Although one might have expected a small, or even significant, legacy to be left to a carer, the wholesale change in the will in favour of Mrs Henderson is surprising in all the circumstances.


‘Marcel’s close family appear to have been kept out of the picture in relation to the writing of the new will and the time of the final illness.’


The judge concluded, ‘I have no hesitation in reaching the conclusion that the siblings are entitled to a decree in solemn form in favour of the 2008 will.’