Woman won’t get share of £1 million inheritance after judge ruled she lied about brother

·3-min read
David Whittle with his parents Lorna and Gerald Whittle. (SWNS)
David Whittle with his parents Lorna and Gerald Whittle. (SWNS)

A woman has been disinherited from her late father's £1 million will after her brother was only written out of it because she told lies about him.

Sonia Whittle turned her father Gerald Whittle against his son David with a string of false accusations shortly before his death, a court heard.

A judge was told she falsely labelled her brother and his wife as "psychopaths" and "criminals" to their elderly dad in a "disgraceful" attempt to cut them out of the will.

The court also heard she failed to tell David of their father's death and hid the £1m inheritance of antiques and classic cars from him.

In a landmark ruling delivered this week, a High Court judge has ruled the will "invalid" on the grounds that it was obtained fraudulently and through undue influence.

Known as ‘fraudulent calumny’, it is only the third court ruling of its kind since 2007.

Delivering the verdict on Tuesday at Bristol High Court, District Judge Tony Woodburn described it as a “disgraceful” and “appalling” attempt to cut rightful beneficiary out of will.

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David Whittle told the court he had 'a good relationship with his father'. (SWNS)
David Whittle told the court he had "a good relationship with his father". (SWNS)

The court heard father-of-two Gerald died aged 92 in December 2016, just three weeks after executing his will and appointing daughter Sonia and her partner, Ray Spicer, as executors.

Apart from a bequest to David of Gerald’s old cars, the entire estate, valued at approximately £1m was left to Sonia and Ray.

The court heard to take instructions for the will, Gerald’s solicitors sent a trainee legal executive to his house.

During the meeting, Sonia told the legal executive that David and his wife Julie were “psychopaths and criminals” who had stolen large sums of money from Julie`s mother.

Sonia also made claims that David had been looking for Gerald’s bank details whilst he had been in hospital, that he had stolen his antiques and classic cars.

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General view of Bristol Magistrates Court.
The case was heard at Bristol High Court. (PA)

District Judge Woodburn said: "I have noted David's evidence of his telephone call with (Sonia) on 14 October 2016. Within this call he is accused of being a 'thieving little bastard', of being a 'pimp, living off immoral earnings of a prostitute'.

"He visited his father at The Close, the following day on 15 October 2016, but prior to entering his father's room overheard a conversation between (his sister and his father) telling him her brother had stolen money from his mother-in-law and that he was "a violent man who assaulted women'".

The ruling stated David described his father as appearing upset by the claims that were being made.

But David told the court he had 'a good relationship with his father' and argued that he visited him regularly and since the death of his mother Lorna in 2005, visited him 'at least weekly'.

Delivering his verdict, District Judge Woodburn said none of the claims were true and described the behaviour of Sonia as “disgraceful” and “appalling”.

The defendants denied fraudulent calumny. Neither defendant's attended the hearing.