I've been kicked out of my home despite being promised it would be mine – now I'm facing massive bill after court battle | The Sun

A WOMAN who was kicked out of her home despite being promised it would be hers is now facing a massive bill after a tough court battle.

Leigh White, 55, wept in court this week as she was slapped with a £1.25m bill for the stately property in Buckinghamshire, which boasts historic Italianate gardens.

Leigh White claimed David Gladstone, 88, had always viewed her as his “surrogate daughter” and promised she would be "successor and heiress" to his sprawling 18th century mansion.

She had moved into the house in 2017 but was sued last year by the former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, who remarried in 2020, in a bid to get her to leave.

Leigh resisted his attempt to oust her, claiming that he must simply have forgotten that he pledged the house would be hers along with the rest of his wealth.

But in February this year, a judge rejected Leigh's claim that she is heir to the £20m estate and ordered her to pack her bags.

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Mr Gladstone was awarded an order for possession of stately home Wotton House, estimated to be worth between £10m and £15m.

It means Leigh has been left facing crushing court costs totalling over £3m after being ordered to foot both sides lawyers' bills for the case.

However, Leigh has resisted Mr Gladstone’s lawyers' demands that she should stump up an immediate £725,000 towards their £1.25m bill, insisting she has "no money."

And although the trial wrapped up seven months ago, the lawyer has still not paid a penny towards that bill, a court heard.

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Leigh told London's High Court this week that she has doubts over the mental "capacity" of Mr Gladstone and believes her former mentor would not have the heart to pursue her for cash if he was in his normal state of mind.

The diplomat met her 30 years ago when he was married to his first wife and their friendship blossomed due to a shared passion for classical music and theatre.

She became part of the couple’s inner circle and managed Wotton House after his wife died.

Mrs White moved into Wotton in 2017 and three years later Mr Gladstone moved to Cumbria with his second wife, Mary, to shield more effectively from Covid.

Soon afterwards, he fell out with Leigh and asked her to leave so he could return to Wotton House, saying later that he “desperately” wanted to spend his last years there in peace.

When she failed to move out, he sued for possession of the mansion – with Mrs White countersuing over claims that the diplomat had promised she would inherit the £15m house ands the rest of his £20m estate on his death.

But the case returned to court this week as Mr Gladstone’s lawyers asked Master Kaye to sign off an order empowering court officials to seize goods owned by Mrs White to go towards the mammoth costs bill.

Presenting her own case and breaking down in tears at one point, Mrs White claimed she “has no money” and said Mr Gladstone’s lawyers were even considering trying to seize a nine-year-old car which she uses to take her son to school.

She argued there were “special circumstances” which called for the enforcement of the costs order to be suspended.

These include her acute lack of cash and the fact that she is now getting to ready to sue her own former trial lawyers for professional negligence in handling her case.

“So she says I should stay enforcing the writ of control indefinitely,” explained the judge.

On top of that, she claimed there was a serious doubt over whether Mr Gladstone is still driving the case against her, the court heard.

“She believes that Mr Gladstone would not proceed in enforcing against her in the way he appears to be doing if he knew what was really going on,” explained the judge, Master Francesca Kaye.

Mrs White told London’s High Court she had doubts about Mr Gladstone’s legal “capacity” and his fitness to sue, but the judge said there was no evidence to support this.

“She said Mr Gladstone couldn't possibly be pursuing this claim, because she doubts his capacity and he would not be prepared to take this action against her, but would be compassionate,” said Master Kaye.

“Unfortunately, these aren’t matters which the court can address and there is no credible evidence to challenge the claimant’s own evidence that normal instructions were received from David Gladstone to take the action they are taking.”

Mr Gladstone’s legal team claim Mrs White owns or has a financial stake in several properties, but she told the court they were not hers to dispose of.

“She doesn’t see them as assets from which she can meet these liabilities,” explained the judge, describing the picture as “opaque”.



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Refusing to suspend the enforcement order, Master Kaye concluded: “The bottom line is that she owes £725,000 plus interest and will owe more in due course.

“And despite the fact that these orders were made as long ago as February, she has not only not paid them but appears to have resisted the applications and orders sought so far.”

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