A mother and her car-loving son are locked in a £10million courtroom battle over the family’s estate, which she claims he uses like a ‘piggy bank’.
Former girls’ school mistress Pamela Moore, 75, and her son Stephen have never seen eye to eye since he was a young man, the Court of Appeal heard.
He acquired half of the family’s 650-acre estate in Wiltshire in 2008 and angered his mother by splashing out on a new sports car.
She and her husband Roger then decided to write him out of their wills and give the other half of the land to his sister Julie.
The mother and son are now locked in a court battle after Mr Moore Jnr insisted his father – who is now in a care home with advanced dementia – repeatedly ‘promised’ him the whole £10million farm.
Pamela Moore and her son Stephen (right) are locked in a court battle over the family farm
In 2016 Judge Simon Monty ruled that the father’s promises trumped his will and Stephen was entitled to the whole farm.
But Mrs Moore – who says she has been left with ‘no assets’ and is trapped living cheek-by-jowl with a son she is at war with – is asking the Appeal Court to hand back the millions she says should be hers.
The court heard Mrs Moore is acting on behalf of her husband, 75, who can no longer manage his own affairs, as the disputed half-share of the farming partnership is in his name.
Manor Farm, near Salisbury, has been in the Moore family for generations, expanding in scope and value as more land was purchased and more houses built on it over the decades.
Married father-of-two Stephen, 51, ‘has worked on the farm since his childhood’, toiling up to 100 hours a week, and is also a rally car driver in his spare time, the court heard.
He was the only family member of his generation who was ‘passionate about farming’ – Julie and his cousins never having shown a serious interest in agriculture – and, since his father fell ill, ‘now in effect runs the farm alone.’
The son insists his father intended him to have the whole farm, but the mother says the father, who now has dementia, knew what he was doing when he wrote the son out of the will
In 2008, the father’s brother, Geoffrey transferred his half share in the £10 million business to Stephen for just £500,000 in recognition of his commitment to the land.
That move caused a schism between mother and son as she ‘could not accept that he balance of power had changed’ in his favour, his barrister, Caroline Shea QC, told the court.
In the first ruling on the case, Judge Monty found Stephen was ‘passionate about farming’ and ‘threw himself wholeheartedly into working on the farm.’
But appealing that judgment this week, Christopher Pymont QC, for the mother, said her rights as Roger’s wife of over 50 years had been ‘overridden.’
Lawyers for Mrs Moore said a previously finding that her son was entitled to the farm has left her ‘with nothing’
‘Pamela is the wife in a long successful marriage of 50 years with rights to a half share of anything her husband had, should it come to it,’ he said.
‘The effect of the judge’s order is that Pamela has no assets left. There is just nothing left for Pamela,’ the barrister added.
He also complained that the judge’s ruling forced Pamela to live ‘locked together’ with her estranged son.
Roger had full mental capacity when he changed his will, the QC argued, saying his understandable intention ‘was to protect Pamela’ if he died before her.
The son’s lawyer urged appeal judges to leave the estate entirely in Stephen’s hands. She said: ‘He had been groomed for years to take over the farming business…this was plain to all involved.
‘Stephen based his whole life on promises made to him by his father in the context of his knowledge and awareness of the overarching plan to keep the farm within the Moore family.
The judges are expected to reserve their judgment on Pamela’s appeal until a later date.