Woman misses out on multi-millionaire's fortune
A woman who spent more than 10 years living with a multi-millionaire could now be bankrupted after losing her battle for a share of his fortune. Jane Thomson did not want for anything during her relationship with Roy Humphrey, the north Suffolk car magnate.
A woman who spent more than 10 years living with a multi-millionaire could now be bankrupted after losing her battle for a share of his fortune.
Jane Thomson did not want for anything during her relationship with Roy Humphrey, the north Suffolk car magnate. And when the couple split up, she tried to claim a share of the dream home they lived in together.
Yesterday, the mother-of-two lost her legal battle in the High Court for an interest in the property, Church Farm on Hoxne Road in Eye.
Mr Humphrey, 62, who runs a successful car business on the A140 near Eye, bought Church Farm in March 2000. He spent �350,000 on upgrading it, setting up a tack shop business for Ms Thomson to run from the premises.
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But when the couple split up in 2006 after more than a decade together, she was left with no interest in the property, which was in his name.
Ms Thomson told the High Court that Mr Humphrey had promised to look after her. She told Mr Justice Warren that she had given up any prospect of a career to become a housewife and had overseen the massive renovation project at Church Farm, devoting 18 months of her life to manage it. And she said that she had even cooked and cleaned for Mr Humphrey's ageing mother.
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Mr Humphrey's lawyer, Charles Holbech, said when the couple were together she was 'well looked after' and her monthly credit card bills were always paid off 'without question'.
Mr Justice Warren said that, although his decision might be viewed by some as unfair, Ms Thomson had no beneficial interest in Church Farm. He said: 'Whether the conclusion I have reached is one which is seen, on either an objective or subjective basis, as fair or not, it is not a matter for this court. That is a matter for law reform.'
Following the judgment, Mr Holbech asked the judge to order that Ms Thomson - who works in a bank - pay his legal costs, which are likely to run to tens of thousands of pounds.
When the judge asked whether Mr Holbech really wanted to pursue such an application, the barrister replied that he had not been specifically instructed to do so by Mr Humphrey, who was not in court.
Opposing the application, Gary Crawley, for Ms Thomson, said that to make her pay the costs would be 'cruel and inhuman' as she would become bankrupt and would lose her job as a result. He said: 'To make such an order would be to put her life in the hands of Mr Humphrey to do with as he wished. Her career would be destroyed as no bankrupt can work for a bank.'
Mr Justice Warren delayed consideration of costs until a later date. He urged Mr Humphrey to consider his position and pointed out that he had 'won the war'.
Mr Holbech told the judge that Mr Humphrey had made a number of offers to Ms Thomson in a bid to settle the case.
The court heard that, when Ms Thomson was living with Mr Humphrey at another Suffolk property between 1996 and 2000, he had asked her to sign an agreement 'disavowing' her interest in his business and property. But she refused.
Mr Humphrey gave up his job as a mechanic more than 30 years ago to set up his own business, beginning by repairing Ford Anglias and Morris Minors from a lean-to garage next to his parents' bungalow. He employs 150 people, selling, repairing, servicing and leasing cars at a 31-acre site in Brome, near Eye.