Sons in battle for £389,000 left by expat father to BNP: Brothers were bequeathed just £135 between them, High Court told

  • Joseph Robson moved to Alicante in 1992  and in 2010 estate left to BNP
  • His sons Jeremy and Simon were handed  £67.50 each in disputed will
  • They say father was not registered to  vote in UK so cannot donate to BNP
  • Political party say sons are wrongly  trying to block father’s dying wish

The sons of an English expatriate who left  his £389,000 fortune to the  British National Party are fighting to claw  back the money at the High Court.

Joseph Robson, 81, died in Alicante having  bequeathed his entire estate outside Spain to the far-Right BNP.

This left his two sons, Jeremy and Simon,  with just £135 between them. They launched a legal challenge, insisting that  their father was barred from giving money to a British political party under  rules designed to prevent donations from ‘foreigners’.

Family row: Joseph Robson left his £389,000 estate to the BNP and his sons are fighting to have it for themselves claiming he lost his voting rights, making the donation illegal

Family row: Joseph Robson left his £389,000 estate to  the BNP and his sons are fighting to have it for themselves claiming he lost his  voting rights, making the donation illegal, the High Court heard

But the BNP is now challenging the sons’  claims in court.

Arguments: Judge Richard Sheldon heard Mr Robson left his sons just £135

Arguments: Judge Richard Sheldon heard Mr Robson left  his sons just £135

Judge Richard Sheldon QC heard that Mr Robson  – who was born in Ashington,  Northumberland – moved to Alicante after retiring  in 1992.

Four years later he made a will leaving the  BNP all his worldly goods except a Spanish bank account containing just £135,  which he bequeathed to  Jeremy.

But the BNP ran into trouble when it tried to  lay its hands on the gift, after Mr Robson’s  sons claimed he was not legally  allowed to make the donation. They  argued that the expatriate – who divorced  their mother in the 1970s –  failed to register on the UK electoral roll in the  five years before his death in 2010, the judge heard.

That meant he was barred from making the gift  under rules introduced in 2000 to curb foreign donations to British political  parties.

Phillip Capon, for the sons, told the judge  that Mr Robson effectively died  intestate and that his whole fortune ought to  be handed to them, despite his wishes.

But Robert  Grierson, representing BNP  treasurer Clive Jefferson, argued that the  party had overcome the problem by  executing a deed of variation to the  will. This meant the money would paid into  a specially set-up charitable trust, rather than directly to the  party.

The charity’s trustees are Mr Jefferson,  former leading National Front  member Patrick Harrington and Jennifer Matthys,  the daughter of BNP  leader Nick Griffin.

New life: Judge Mr Robson moved to Alicante on his retirement in 1992 after divorcing his sons' mother

New life: Mr Robson moved to Alicante (pictured) on his  retirement in 1992 after divorcing his sons’ mother

Mr  Capon insisted, however, that moving the  cash into the trust would make  no difference and could not legitimise an  ‘illegal’ political donation.

 He said the party was obliged to pay the  money back under the Political  Parties Elections and Referendums Act  2000.
The BNP, represented by party Treasurer, Clive Jefferson (pictured), says the idea their father became a 'foreigner' in the eyes of the law by the time he died is inconceivableThe BNP, represented by party Treasurer, Clive Jefferson  (pictured), says the idea their father became a ‘foreigner’ in the eyes of the  law by the time he died is inconceivable

‘The BNP is not entitled to the gift under  this will,’ he said. ‘It does not have the lawful capacity under the Act to  accept this gift. The gift  fails and there is an intestacy.’

Mr Capon told the court that as the party’s  treasurer, Mr Jefferson could  theoretically face prosecution if it was found to  have accepted the  payment illegally.

Addressing the judge in person, the BNP’s Mr  Harrington argued that it would be  ‘utterly unjust’ for the party to be  stripped of the money bequeathed to it. ‘One son was given nothing and the other  was given less than £150,’ he said.

‘It seems pretty  clear that the father  didn’t want the bulk of his estate to go to his  two sons – he wanted it to go  to a political party.

‘Mr Robson had every right to be on the  electoral register but, for  whatever reason, he was unaware of the provision  that he had to be. The  pathway can never lead to the sons. That can never  happen.’

Denying that the party is fighting the case  as it is badly in need of  funds,  he added: ‘The BNP has received sizeable  legacies as its support base  tends to be amongst older people. It is not  desperate for money.’

Giving his preliminary views on the dispute,  Judge Sheldon said: ‘If the BNP  had investigated whether or not Mr Robson was a  permitted donor there  would be no need for this hearing.’ He reserved his  decision until a  later date.

Neither of Mr  Robson’s sons attended the  hearing. Their barrister was unable to  comment on why their father had decided  to effectively write them out of his will.

From The Daily Mail . Report by  Martin Robinson . 12.12.13

Editorial. We at Liveraf crapped a litter of rattlesnakes (to quote John Steinbeck) when we heard about this one. After all, imagine the chaos which an organisation like the BNP could wreak with that kind of money. Then we realised there is nothing to worry about. To make an uncontestable will, you have to be of sound mind. Clearly that is the last thing which anyone leaving anything to the BNP could claim to be.

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