Son cut out of mother’s will after her civil partnership wins £1 million in court
Oxford professor Christopher Gosden has been awarded £1 million after his mother left much of her wealth to her partner in her will.
Gosden, the director of the Institute of Archaeology at Oxford, sued after being disinherited in the will left by his late mother Jean Weddell, a pioneering former medic and World Health Organisation lecturer who died in 2013 aged 84.
Gosden was angered to discover that despite his mother once vowing to leave him her London home, she instead left much of her wealth to barrister Wendy Cook, her civil partner.
The professor later discovered that the home had been sold for £710,000 without his knowledge in 2010, The Times reports, after his mother moved to the Isle of Wight with Cook.
He alleged that he should have had a veto over the house sale due to a trust scheme set up by his mother in 2003, which listed Gosden and his wife as beneficiaries.
Oxford professor waged court battle after being cut out of will.
The couple waged a legal battle against solicitors Halliwell Landau, who were responsible for drawing up the initial trust agreement, for allowing the house to be sold without their knowledge. They also accused the solicitors of negligence for failing to register a Land Registry restriction which would have kept him and his wife in control of the property.
The case made it as far as the Court of Appeal, with Lord Justice Patten finding last year that it was unlikely Gosden and his wife would have consented to the sale given their “concern… about Dr Weddell’s capacity and what they regarded as the malign influence of Ms Cook in the arrangement of Dr Weddell’s affairs”.
On Tuesday (2 February), High Court judge Mark Pelling QC ordering the solicitors to pay Gosden £985,299.45 in damages for “negligence”.
They will also be required to pay legal costs, likely to be a six-figure sum. The Times reports that Halliwell Landau has ceased trading and was later sold off to four other firms, with legal services company Gateley now responsible for the payout.
Weddell’s widow Wendy Cook was not party to the action, and no claim has been made against her.