A woman disinherited by her mother’s decision to leave the family’s £2.3 million farm to the RSPCA celebrated victory today when a court declared the will invalid.
Christine Gill, an only child, wept as a judge ruled that she was entitled to inherit the 287-acre North Yorkshire farm to which she had devoted years of labour to support and care for her ageing parents. The RSPCA said that it would appeal against the ruling.
Dr Gill’s widowed mother Joyce, who died at 82, did not even support the charity. She was pro-hunting and, according to her daughter and other witnesses, thought the RSPCA “were just a bunch of townies who knew nothing about the countryside”. The High Court in Leeds ruled that the shy, reclusive mother had been bullied into the will by her ill-tempered husband, John, before his death.
The animal charity, which two years ago rejected an offer of three quarters of the estate, may have to pay both sides’ legal costs, totalling £1.3 million. The court will rule on costs later. SHEER UTTER GREED DROVE THEM ON FOR MORE. THEY WANTED ALL OF IT!!!!!!
Dr Gill, 58, a part-time university lecturer whose 12-year-old son can now fulfil his ambition to become a farmer, said she was “shaking with relief” at the court’s decision.She felt that her heart and soul had been “ripped out” when she first learnt that the will said she would get no money or land.
As the RSPCA had made plans to sell the farm, the Gills wrote to its patrons, including the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury. It refused to negotiate, and the Gills sought an injunction to prevent the sale of Potto Carr Farm, near Northallerton.
Dr Gill had worked on the family farm since the age of 13, and came home from university to help at weekends and in the holidays. The court heard that even her choice of career — she lectured part-time in statistics at the University of Leeds — was influenced by the need to work flexible hours.
As her parents grew older, Dr Gill and her husband, Andrew Baczkowski, bought and renovated a nearby property to be close to them. She was unaware that in 1993 her father, John, and her mother had signed wills by which the farm was left initially to the surviving spouse and then to the RSPCA.
Mr Gill died in 1999. By then Dr Gill’s son, Christopher, had been born. He was “mad about farming” and his grandmother bought him toy tractors. The court was told that Mrs Gill made repeated assurances that the farm would stay in the family when she died. Dr Gill, represented by Mishcon de Reya solicitors, argued that her mother must have been coerced into making a will that was contrary to her own wishes. She died in 2006.
Ruling in Dr Gill’s favour today, Judge James Allen, QC, accepted that Mrs Gill was a shy, reclusive and anxious woman who did not like mixing with people and suffered from agoraphobia and irrational fears. Her husband, the judge said, was a “stubborn, self-opinionated, domineering man” prone to outbursts of fury. His wife always deferred to him.
As the wills were signed, Mrs Gill “would have experienced anxiety of such severity that her thoughts would have been dominated by an impulse to escape back to the safety of her house”. She “could not have followed or understood what she was doing”.
The judge was satisfied that Mrs Gill had “an avowed dislike” of the RSPCA and wanted her daughter to inherit the farm, but that she had been unduly influenced by her husband.
An RSPCA spokesman said it was surprised and disappointed. “Throughout this, the RSPCA has been in an extremely difficult position. The will left by Dr Gill’s parents was very clear — in one sentence they left their entire estate to the RSPCA and in the next they said their daughter should receive nothing. In that situation the RSPCA cannot just walk away. In fact, we are legally obliged to seek the funds under charitable law.”
He said that the charity had “tried to settle the matter amicably before it even came to court”, offering to pay Dr Gill £650,000 plus all her costs.
Mark Keenan, of Mishcon de Reya, said this belated offer was made “shortly before trial” and followed the RSPCA’s rejection of Dr Gill’s earlier offer and requests for mediation.
The BBC received many complaints last night over bias towards the RSPCA in reporting this case. The BBC always like to show the RSPCA in a good light!!
However, they allowed an interview with Christine Gill to appear on the news this morning and Christine confirmed that the RSPCA had refused mediation and turned down her very generous offer of 3/4 of the estate.
The RSPCA tried to mislead the media by trying to pretend that she had made no offer and had made no attempt to settle. They refused mediation and refused her incredibly generous offier. When it became clear that their main witness had struck a deal to buy the farm for a knock-down price and had been given access to documents by the RSPCA's lawyers in order to improve his evidence, the RSPCA made a derisory offer.
THEY WILL NOW BE ASKING YOU FOR YOUR MONEY TO HELP PAY FOR THEIR ARROGANCE!!!!!!!!