War of the Worlds songwriter battles sister over £3m inheritance

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Janet Osborne And Gary Osborne With Guitars In 1965. - ANL/Shutterstock/Shutterstock
Janet Osborne And Gary Osborne With Guitars In 1965. - ANL/Shutterstock/Shutterstock

The songwriter for Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds album is being sued for £3 million by his sister over claims he “exploited” their dementia-suffering mother.

Gary Osborne, 72, has enjoyed a five decades-long career in music, penning the lyrics for the bestselling album and working alongside Elton John and Val Doonican.

He also performed in the Sixties as part of sibling pop duo, Gary and Jan Lorraine, with his sister Jan Jones, a future wife of The Who drummer Kenney Jones.

Gary Osborne with singer Rod Stewart in 2017 - Hannah Young/Shutterstock
Gary Osborne with singer Rod Stewart in 2017 - Hannah Young/Shutterstock

The pair released a single in 1965 called I'm Not To Blame but are now embroiled in a bitter court fight following their mother's death, aged 94, in 2018.

Ms Jones claims that Mr Osborne, 72, exercised "undue influence" over their mother, Joan, to convince her to give him her £3 million west London home.

She claims her mother was declining with dementia and vulnerable to her son's pressure when she signed it over to him in 2002. She now wants the money he received when he sold the apartment to be split among the family.

Constance McDonnell QC, representing Ms Jones, said: “Mr Osborne was able to exploit, and did exploit, the deceased's said vulnerability to his advantage as to procure the gift of the property to himself.

"Further or alternatively, Mr Osborne acquired over the deceased a measure of influence or ascendancy of which he took unfair advantage in procuring the gift of the property."

Jeff Wayne conducts a performance of The War of the Worlds in 2006 - Louise Wilson/Getty Images Europe
Jeff Wayne conducts a performance of The War of the Worlds in 2006 - Louise Wilson/Getty Images Europe

Mr Osborne has denied the allegations, claiming that his mother, with whom he had a "very close and loving relationship", gave him the Little Venice flat to avoid inheritance tax

He also denies that she was significantly in decline at the time and had continued driving and working.

The case reached court for a hearing last week beforef a full trial scheduled for 2022 or 2023.

Mr Osborne began his songwriting career at the age of 15 and had his first US chart hit with The Seekers when he was17.

In the 1970s, he collaborated with Elton John on his A Single Man album, taking over from Bernie Taupin as lyricist, and they later had hits together with Little Jeannie and Blue Eyes.

But his biggest success was in writing the lyrics to Jeff Wayne's musical retelling of the War of the Worlds by HG Wells, for which he won an Ivor Novello Award in 2011.

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