A former actress was branded a "greedy liar" by her millionaire mother after she brought a High Court claim to a share of the family's £ 3 million estate.
Tamara Lucas, 47, claims she learned since childhood that she and her younger brother and sister would one day share the family's 26 acre Berkshire pile.
Drawing on her mother Mel Gatward's promise that she would be rich anyway, she says she has put aside hopes of a high-paying career as a lawyer.
She was instead pursuing her dream of becoming an actress, but despite appearing on TV and on stage, she wasn't a huge hit.
Her mother later decided to give the keys to Sandleford Place, near Newbury, to her younger brother, Alex Gatward, instead.
The move has sparked a "bitterly fierce" dispute in the High Court that has already received over £ 800,000 in attorney bills. Tamara is suing siblings Alex (45) and Laura Gatward (39) for their rightful stake in the nine-bed house and property.
Tamara Lucas, left, is suing her siblings over their stake in the 26-acre Berkshire listed pile. Her mother gave the keys to Sandleford Place near Newbury to her younger brother Alex Gatward (right)
The property, valued at around £ 3 million, includes a nine-bedroom, seven-bathroom home with five reception rooms, 19 acres of paddock and pasture, and seven acres of ornamental gardens open to visitors several times a year under the National Garden Scheme
Matriarch Thelma & # 39; Mel & # 39; Gatward decided to give the property to her son Alex because she feared that the “annoying nature” of her “unbearably messy” daughter would make it impossible to divide the property
Tamara says her siblings teamed up to cut her out of their inheritance and that her mother, who gave the house to Alex, was a way to cover up a plan to disinherit her from her stake in a "large family fortune."
But the siblings, supported by their parents Alan and Mel Gatward, deny having done anything wrong and say it is "financially irresponsible" for Tamara to pursue her acting dream for a decade.
She chose to become an actress and took the risk of low income, but was also generously cared for by her parents, who bought her an apartment when she was a student at Edinburgh University.
Tamara had already received "very generous financial resources" from her parents, who bought her an apartment as a student and then helped her with further property purchases, the court heard.
She climbs the residential ladder and now owns approximately £ 2 million worth of property from which she receives rental income.
Ms. Gatward chose to give Alex the property alone because she feared the “annoying nature” of her “unbearably messy” daughter would make it impossible to share the property, say the siblings' lawyers.
Ms. Gatward said to a judge, "My life has been completely ruined by my daughter's greed and intransigence and her lies and her insistence on doing what is not her own."
Ms. Gatward says the family made their money when Alan Gatward turned his father's paper company into a thriving international wallpaper supplier, grossing up to £ 28 million a year before selling in the 1980s.
Ms. Lucas pursued her dream of becoming an actress, despite appearing on television and on stage (pictured), but it wasn't a huge success
The family home was bought by an offshore company controlled by his wife Thelma, known as Mel, and they moved there after the business was sold.
The property is now worth between £ 2.65 million and £ 3 million and includes a nine bedroom, seven bathroom home with five reception rooms, 19 acres of paddock and pasture, and seven acres of ornamental gardens, which the gardener Mrs Gatward opens to visitors several times a year through the year National Garden Scheme.
Tamara claims that it was always the family's intention to finally hand over the house, which was in their mother's name, to the three siblings in equal parts.
With that convenience, she focused on becoming an actress and attended Mountview, one of the UK's premier drama schools.
She relied on assurances that she would inherit part of a "substantial family fortune" and otherwise work for a "top law firm in the US, internationally, internationally or at least regionally."
Alex Gatward has been named the owner and manager of the family home
The married mother of one child was “unsuccessful” in her career choice and has embarked on a new avenue of compliance and regulatory law in later years, according to court files filed ahead of a lawsuit against the lawsuit earlier this year.
Despite discussions about handing the house over to three siblings, Ms. Gatward handed the keys over to her son Alex, the national account manager for a tech company, in 2018, insisting that this be a "gift" from mother to son.
Tamara’s attorney James Ballance said, “We’re just saying this is wrong. In this way the family presents the transfer to the outside world because they see Tamara as endlessly argumentative.
"My client believes that her siblings conspired against her to cut her out of their inheritance."
The lawyer said the argument was "bitterly bitter" and both sides accused the other of "lying about anything or being fantasists".
Tamara had been branded as a "Walter Mitty character" who was "prone to fantasy and daydreaming" while one witness in the case accused her of always being "different from the others" and suggested that she might be autistic.
During a brief pre-trial hearing, Ms. Gatward told Judge Milwyn Jarman QC that Tamara was satisfied that the family was sitting on a historic fortune passed down from previous generations.
She said that there was no fortune and that her husband Alan, 89, built his fortune through his hard work, expanding his father's paper business after his death, which began selling blackout blinds during World War II.
Ms. Gatward, center, found her daughter "unbearably chaotic" and said the resulting "domestic chaos" was "deeply irritating" to her
"I'm sick of my daughter Tamara imagining that some kind of family fortune exists, like a magical god who came down from heaven like Santa Claus and made my family rich," Ms. Gatward told the judge.
Constance McDonnell QC for Alex Gatward said: “Mr. and Mrs. Gatward have tried to instill a sense of financial responsibility in each of their children, including maintaining capital, avoiding debt, and planning their own pensions.
“They encouraged each of their children to think about the financial implications of their respective career choices.
Ms. Gatward was concerned about the poor financial rewards the applicant would receive as an actress and tried to dissuade her from embarking on such a career.
"The applicant chose her career path by acting independently and voluntarily, accepting the risk of low income, but with the certainty of already owning her own property from which she received rental income."
She said Tamara's career as an actress was "unsuccessful" and it was "financially irresponsible" of her to pursue her dream for about ten years.
The truth was Ms. Gatward had considered giving the house to all three children but simply decided against it, Quality Control said.
"Other reasons included Alex Gatward's proximity to the property and Ms. Gatward's belief that he would be a responsible owner and manager of the property."
Alex lived in the house for eight years until 2012, while Tamara only lived there for 14 months after the birth of her son and at times after 2016.
Tamara, who claims to have lived there between 2016 and 2019, had "effectively invited" to stay, but her mother found her "unbearably chaotic" and the resulting "domestic chaos" was "deeply irritating" to her.
Tamara's actors include the 2005 film Singing Stones, directed by Kim Bour and appearing as a clubber in a 2000 commercial for VK Vodka Kick.
The case is due to be brought before a judge later this year.
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