Heir to the Littlewoods Empire WINS High Court battle against brother

A grandson of one of the brothers behind the Littlewoods Pool Empire today won a High Court fight with his brother for some of their family’s billion pound fortune.

The Moores family – heirs to Littlewoods founders Sir John and Cecil Moores – enjoy a fortune estimated in 2020 at £ 1.21 billion, amassed through their football pools and mail order empire.

But Cecil’s grandchildren ended up fighting in court for a trust fund he created over 70 years ago for the benefit of future generations.

Cecil’s daughter, Patricia Moores, died aged 86 in 2017, sparking the High Court battle involving her three children.

Her eldest son Christian Velarde, 63, claimed their mother wanted her younger brother Matthew, 61, removed from the fund because he had divorced and she feared his ex-wife might claim part of the fund. ‘silver. .

But Matthew – with the support of their sister Rebecca – said he was entitled to a third share, as his mother’s will was clear in stating his intention to divide everything equally.

Last year, a High Court judge ruled in Matthew’s favor.

Christian appealed the decision, but today an older judge dismissed his appeal, meaning Matthew is entitled to a third share in the Patricia Trust Fund.

The ruling means that in addition to getting a third of their mother’s £ 40million estate, Matthew is entitled to an equal share of the current income from his trust fund.

The death of Patricia Moores (pictured), daughter of swimming pool founder Cecil Moores, has sparked a bitter feud between her three children

Matthew Velarde (left), son of the billionaire family behind the Littlewoods empire, won a High Court legacy battle over the £ 40million fortune left by his mother Patricia Moores (right)

Pictured: Patricia Moores' £ 2million Isle of Man home which was sold before her death

Pictured: Patricia Moores’ £ 2million Isle of Man home which was sold before her death

Over the years the family have owned the Liverpool and Everton football clubs.

The empire was built from the ground up by Sir John, aided by his brother Cecil, and was sold to the Barclay brothers in 2002 for £ 750million, leaving many family members with vast fortunes of several million of books.

Patricia Moores – who died at her £ 2million six-bedroom Isle of Man home, which was set on 2.8 acres, with a pool and separate staff quarters – was reportedly given 25million pounds sterling from the 2002 Littlewoods sale.

In rendering his judgment, Judge Ashley Greenbank ruled that the previous judge, Deputy Petty Officer Martin Dray, was not wrong in finding in Matthew’s favor.

At the appeal hearing in November, Christian’s lawyer Penelope Reed QC said Ms Moores initially intended to split the fund among her three children.

But in 1997 – in the midst of Matthew’s divorce – she did an about-face, naming only Christian and Rebecca as beneficiaries of the fund.

The sibling fight was sparked by her final will, signed in 2007, which divided all of her global assets – except for specific gifts – equally among her children.

The estate was worth £ 40million at the time of his death, but that value did not include his entitlement to the trust fund income, the court said.

Christian also received a gold orchid brooch with a ruby ​​center and diamond leaves with matching gold and diamond earrings, while Matthew received a Cartier watch in gold, the Russian wedding ring. mother’s three-ring gold ring, a three-strand pearl necklace with a large emerald and diamond clasp, and two pairs of diamond earrings.

Rebecca received an art deco diamond bracelet set in platinum, diamond and pearl earrings, a diamond fern and flower brooch, and a lion medallion in gold and silver, while five grandchildren also received received specific gifts of jewelry, plus £ 1million to share equally among them.

A single clause of her, however, will lead to the legal battle of the brothers. He says: “I leave all of my real estate and the rest of the residues and the rest of my personal belongings to be bequeathed and named … to my children Peter Christian Velarde, Matthew Julian Velarde and Rebecca Velarde.”

Pictured: Rebecca Velarde, who was involved in the High Court case over her mother's fortune

Pictured: Rebecca Velarde, who was involved in the High Court case over her mother’s fortune

Sir John Moores (pictured left in 1951) founded the Littlewoods Empire with his brother Cecil

Sir John Moores (pictured left in 1951) founded the Littlewoods Empire with his brother Cecil

Matthew said that meant she revoked her 1997 appointment of her siblings as the sole beneficiaries of the fund, for which no value was disclosed.

But on appeal, Ms Reed, on behalf of Christian, argued that was not enough and that she should have specifically revoked the 1997 decision if she wanted to include Matthew as a beneficiary.

Highlighting Christian’s evidence, she said Matthew’s divorce was the cause of Ms Moores’ decision to revoke him as the beneficiary of the trust, when there had also been a “general chill” of the relationship between them.

“Matthew was in the process of divorcing his wife at the time and she was investigating family trusts and whether Matthew was a beneficiary of them,” she told the judge.

“That was the reason for this exclusion.

She said the wording in the will was “simply insufficient” for a judge to find that she intended to overturn her 1997 ruling and bring Matthew back as the beneficiary of the trust.

“Our simple argument is that there is no mention at all of the appointment in 1997,” she said.

She continued: ‘This clause [of the will] was not meant to bear the brunt of undoing something so carefully thought out in 1997. ‘

But for Matthew, attorney Rodney Stewart Smith said Deputy Petty Officer Dray was right last year in deciding the will was to ensure Ms Moores’ assets – including her entitlement to trust income – should be divided equally.

Under her will, Matthew was to inherit a third of his multi-million pound estate, which did not suggest that she wanted to cut it off entirely to prevent his ex-wife from making a claim, he said. he argued.

And in his witness statement, Matthew said that the divorce and all its financial fallout were concluded in 1998, that her ex remarried herself to a “rich” man in 1999 and never tried to do so. of claim against him.

Refusing the suggestion of a ‘general cooling’ of the mother-son relationship, Mr Stewart Smith added: “Matthew denies this, and the fact that he was through a third-party beneficiary of Ms Moores’ estate confirms this. “

Patricia Moores had twice said that all of her global assets should be factored in and split evenly among her three children, he added.

Handing the victory over to Matthew today, Justice Greenbank said: “If I am to uphold the appeal, I must be satisfied that Deputy Master Dray’s decision was either wrong or unfair because of a serious procedural or other irregularity.

“I am not convinced that, given the facts of the case, Deputy Master Dray’s decision was wrong in the sense that it was unsustainable. I therefore propose to dismiss this appeal.

The judge said the captain’s decision took into account evidence in two letters of instruction written by Ms Moores.

“These letters record his intention to divide his estate between his children equally,” he continued.

“I accept that these letters are inconclusive; they could be interpreted as referring to the estate of Ms. Moores, including or to the exclusion of the assets of the Patricia Trust Fund.

“But the Deputy Master did not treat them as determinants and I am convinced that the conclusion the Deputy Master drew from this evidence – that it was, at least, consistent with the idea that Mrs. Moores wanted Matthew to receive a third of everything in his giveaway, including the Patricia Trust Fund – was a conclusion he was entitled to draw.

“Having considered all of the issues raised in the grounds of appeal, I am not persuaded that, on the facts of the case, Deputy Master Dray’s decision was in error.”

The company was built by the Moores brothers, who were later immortalized in bronze as statues in Liverpool, where the swimming pool company was founded, and Sir John gave its name to the city’s John Moores University.

In 1992, Business Age magazine, ranking Britain’s richest women, placed Moores family members Donabella Moores, Lady Grantchester and Patricia Martin in the top ten, with fortunes larger than those reported by the queen at the time.

About Lillian Coomer

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