Sister's heartache over will battle

By James MortlockONE of the daughter's of wealthy stud owner Neil Adam has spoken of the heartbreaking battle over his estate that ended in a High Court showdown with his manager and groom.

By James Mortlock

ONE of the daughter's of wealthy stud owner Neil Adam has spoken of the heartbreaking battle over his estate that ended in a High Court showdown with his manager and groom.

Multiple sclerosis sufferer Mr Adam left the 70-acre Collin Stud in Stetchworth, near Newmarket, to the two workers instead of his two daughters.

But after a three-year legal wrangle, a judge finally overruled Mr Adam's final will, which was made in 2001 when he was unable to communicate except by blinking and moving his head.

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Judge Nicholas Strauss said there was no rational explanation for Mr Adam choosing to give the estate, worth more than £850,000, to stud manager Robin Sharp, 44, and stud groom, Malcolm Bryson, 39, while leaving his children with nothing.

He ruled another will made in 1997 leaving the stud farm to his daughters - Grace, 41, and Emma, 37 - should stand. But the sisters said the fight had never been about the money.

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Emma Adam, a vet who is studying equine surgery at the University of Pennsylvania in America, said their legal victory had set the record straight about their relationship with their father.

"In court Robin and Malcolm's case was largely based on the premise that we had had a massive fallout, which was not the case. It was really good the judge dismissed this notion and set it straight for the record that Grace and I had warm relations with our father," she said.

"That was a wonderful part of winning the case. We all had differences of opinion, but that never undermined the fact we were family and we loved each other."

She said the dispute with Mr Sharp and Mr Bryson had made her father's death in 2002 at the age of 70 even harder to cope with.

"Robin has been a family friend for years and we are sure that this situation is not what Dad would have wanted. My sister and I were disappointed in Robin and Malcolm that it came to such a confrontation," she said.

Mr Bryson and Mr Sharp argued in court that Mr Adam had fallen out with his daughters after he divorced their mother in 1992 and that they had been left the stud farm as a reward for rescuing the business from a financial crisis in the late 1990s.

But Mr Adam's daughters said they were always certain their father wanted Collin Stud to remain in the family.

Emma Adam said: "In the time between Dad and Mum divorcing, Dad made three wills and four codicils. When making a codicil I believe you affirm the recent will contents and make minor changes.

"So seven times during this period he affirmed what we as a family had always known were his wishes and that was that blood was thicker than water and that the stud would be inherited by his daughters.

"The extreme change in the will made one year before his death was so odd that Grace and I knew it was not what Dad wanted."

But the battle may not be over as Judge Strauss granted Mr Bryson and Mr Sharp permission to take the case to the Court of Appeal - although he urged both sides to come to an amicable solution.

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