London - A dairy farmer’s son who ‘doesn’t like cows’ is battling his parents in the High Court for the right to inherit their business.
Clive Shaw, 55, says he was put to work on the farm – worth almost £1million (more than R18 million) – from the age of seven and told that it would one day be his.
But after a falling out at Christmas 2016 – allegedly caused by his mother’s dislike for his girlfriend – his elderly parents wrote him out of their wills.
Gillian Shaw, 78, thinks Clive’s partner, Lesley Hollis, is a ‘gold digger’ out to get her hands on the spoils of three generations’ toil, the court heard. And she and her husband, Walt, 78, say Mr Shaw hasn’t worked hard enough. They never gave up the ‘right to change their minds’ about what to do with their property, their lawyers argue.
But Mr Shaw says he was still in short trousers when put to work and sacrificed most of his adult life to Whaley Farm, in New York, Lincolnshire. He claims his parents are stuck with the ‘unconditional assurances’ they gave him.
‘It was always suggested that it would be me who would take over the running of the farm,’ he told Judge John Linwood. ‘I felt I had to carry on in that direction. It was expected.’
For the parents, barrister Katherine Hallett claimed Mr Shaw had exaggerated the extent of the work he did. He would keep out of the way when his father was working with the herd, she told London’s High Court. His sister Cheryl told how he would say things like cows were ‘stinking, horrible, rotten creatures’. Miss Hallett put to him: ‘You frequently said to members of your family that you hated the cows over the years.’ He replied: ‘I said I didn’t like them – I didn’t hate them.’
Miss Hallett said the couple had hoped that Clive would show an interest in farming. ‘Indeed, it was their biggest dream,’ she said. ‘However … he was expected to work for it.’
She said a ‘just bystander’ would not have thought that he would get ‘something for nothing’.
‘Walt and Gill have more than compensated Clive over the decades for the ad hoc work he did.’
Miss Hallett said he had relied heavily on his parents’ support. He had lived on the farm his entire adult life. He had never paid for utilities and, for long periods, did not pay for food and had his washing cooking done by his mother. Mr Shaw now runs an American show-truck business. But he still lives at the farm in a caravan with Miss Hollis, said his barrister, Leslie Blohm QC.
Mr Blohm claimed it was Gillian Shaw’s attitude towards Miss Hollis that lay at the heart of her decision to disinherit her son. ‘Mrs Shaw has a history of finding fault with her son’s partners,’ he said
Mr Blohm said his client had performed arduous work for little money over many years on the understanding that he would eventually inherit. ‘He cannot go back and have his life again.’
Judge Linwood is expected to reserve his decision.Daily Mail