A RETIRED ambassador who let his "surrogate daughter" stay in his house claims the woman is now refusing to leave.
David Gladstone says he's desperate to evict Leigh White, 55, from his estate after allowing her to move in to help run the house.
David, the former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, said her and Ms White became friends in the 90s and as he grew older, she became involved in the management of the estate, the Telegraph reports.
Wotton House, a Grade I-listed mansion worth £15m, boasts Sir Tony Blair and Capability Brown gardens as neighbours.
David inherited the property in 2014 when his wife died after it having been in her family for more than half a century.
But David now feels the property has been taken over by Ms White and felt distressed enough to escalate the matter to the courts.
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A two-week trial at the High Court heard the pair became friendly over shared interests including Sri Lanka, theatre and classical music.
Ms White claims that from around 2007, David assured her on numerous occasions that Wotton House and two other properties in his £20 million portfolio would go to her when he died.
But David disagrees, and is suing Ms White, who currently resides in the home with her son and husband, for possession of the house.
Ms White's representation, Penelope Reed KC, claims “David asked her if she would take on Wotton when he and April died, which she reasonably understood as meaning she would inherit it” during a lunch at the National Liberal Club last year.
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It was claimed David's inheritance plans only changed "unexpectedly" when he had moved to Cumbria with his new wife, Mary, during the first lockdown.
Ms Reed claims David outlined his desire to move into the home with Mary and revealed his will had been rewritten, leaving Ms White nothing.
David's barrister, Tracey Angus KC, argues there was never an agreement for Ms White to inherit the home and that any inference this was the case was a misunderstanding.
She said: “Ms White refused to move out and instead appears to have decided the house was her and her son’s primary residence."
The KC added Ms White was joined by her husband “at some point during 2022”.
She said: “He desperately wants to spend what remains of his life at Wotton… David’s relationship with Ms White has broken down irretrievably.
“Regardless of who is at fault for this, David cannot return to Wotton whilst Ms White is there and it is unfair to exclude him from his home.”
In addition to the home, David is also demanding the return of about £800,000 in bonds which he transferred to Ms White.
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The KC claims these were handed over during a time when she had “ascendancy over him” due to his age.
The judge is expected to deliver a ruling on the case at a later date.
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