CEO of Diamond Products, Barbara Cook, Entangled in Legal Battle Over Sunningdale Mansion Inheritance

CEO of Diamond Products, Barbara Cook, Entangled in Legal Battle Over Sunningdale Mansion Inheritance

Barbara Cook, CEO of Diamond Products and a prominent figure in the sex toy industry, finds herself entangled in a legal dispute over a multi-million pound mansion near the renowned Sunningdale Golf Club.

Cook claims that she and her sister, Jennifer Gough, were unjustly excluded from their £450,000 inheritance after changes were made to their stepfather’s will following their mother’s death.

The Background: Luxury Mansion Near Sunningdale Golf Club

The plush residence, acquired by Rita Nelly Henry and stepfather Gordon Henry in 1993, stands in an upscale neighborhood adjacent to Sunningdale Golf Club.

The dispute emerged after Rita’s demise in 2016, leading to allegations of wrongful deprivation of inheritance against Gordon and step-siblings Philip Henry and Phillippa Callan.

Legal Argument: Mutual Wills and Equity Release

The legal battle centers on the concept of mutual wills, established in 2009, intending to divide the property after Rita and Gordon’s deaths.

However, claims suggest that Gordon violated this agreement by altering his will in January 2017, permitting equity release and remortgaging the property, resulting in loans totaling £450,000 secured against the mansion.

Contentions in Court: Unlawful Mortgages and Equity Release

Barbara Cook’s solicitor, Richard Strachan Higham, contends that Gordon’s actions, including the purported mortgages and equity release, were unlawful and breached the terms of mutual wills.

The legal representative seeks a declaration from the court, arguing that the £450,000 should be deducted from Gordon’s children’s share of the inheritance.

Defense Counter: Denial of Mutual Wills and Validity of Gordon’s Actions

In response, the defense, represented by Robert Arnfield for Mrs. Callan and Mr. Henry, denies the existence of mutual wills and asserts that Gordon’s 2017 will was valid.

They argue that Gordon had the right to use equity release for his care costs after Rita’s death, emphasizing the property’s joint tenancy and Gordon’s autonomy in dealing with it.

Current State: Mansion Left to Deteriorate Amid Legal Dispute

As the legal tussle ensues, Jennifer Gough’s refusal to sell the property has led to its deterioration over the past three years.

Despite acknowledging £420,000 withdrawn as a mortgage against the house, the defense argues that the loans were essential for Gordon’s lifetime expenses, including care costs.

Court Proceedings and Mediation: Valuation and Development Potential

The case, anticipated to accumulate over £300,000 in court costs, faces a two-month stay for property valuation and mediation.

The mansion, surrounded by neighboring mansions, will be assessed for its “development potential.” Mediation will be attempted, with other sisters having the opportunity to join the legal action.

Financial Stakes and Potential Trial: Deciding the Fate of the Inheritance

With court costs escalating, the case is poised for a three-day trial if an amicable resolution is not achieved during the mediation period.

The financial stakes and complex family dynamics underscore the intricacies of the legal battle involving the CEO of Diamond Products, Barbara Cook.