Legacy battle daughter said mum disliked RSPCA

A lecturer contesting a £2.34m bequest to the RSPCA has claimed her mother had a distaste for the animal charity labelling them a 'bunch of townies'.

Mum-of-one Dr Christine Gill, 58, has launched a High Court challenge after her parents' sprawling 287-acre farm estate bypassed her completely despite her being given repeated assurances by mother Joyce that it would be hers.

Her witness statement states: "I have always felt the farm is where I belonged. Now I feel as though I do not belong anywhere.

"The contrast between my parents' behaviour towards me and the contents of their wills has been a devastating shock and a complete blow to my self-confidence."

The only daughter claims that her mother knew nothing of the contents of the 'mirror wills' signed by her and husband John Gill in 1993 in relation to Potto Carr Farm, a picturesque location in the North York Moors near Northallerton.

She also claims that her only son Christopher, 11, was well-loved by his grandparents and Joyce, who died in August 2006 aged 82, had said to her: "I wonder what Christopher will do with the farm."

She said: "My mother made no mention of the RSPCA. I would have been astounded if she had. My mother had no time for the RSPCA whom she would describe as a bunch of townies.

"Both my parents disagreed with the RSPCA's stance on hunting and they allowed the local hunt to pass over the farm."

Unknown to Dr Gill, the 1993 wills had left her parents' estate to each other and then to the RSPCA if they both died. But she only found out after her mother died. John died in April 1999 aged 82.

She said in her statement: "I felt, and continue to feel, completely betrayed."

The hearing at Leeds Crown Court has heard how Dr Gill, of Northallerton, believes her mother, who she said suffered from social phobia and agoraphobia, would have been coerced into signing the will by her father.

She says: "I know that it must have been my father who gave the instructions for these wills as I do not believe my mother would have ever wanted to make such a will and, anyway, she would never have contacted the solicitors herself.

"There is nothing I can remember that explains why my father did this.

"I am absolutely sure that my mother had no idea that the will she signed in 1993 gave the farm to the RSPCA if my father died before her."

Dr Gill also said she chose an academic career so she would help out on the farm and she also bought an adjoining property, White House Farm in 1986 with husband Andrew Baczkowski.

And she said her parents behaved as if the new property and Potto Carr were one and the same.

She said: "After we bought White House, my parents would refer to it as 'Your side of the farm'."

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