Father wins his £2.5m property battle with son

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A wealthy farmer’s son locked in a legal battle with his father has ‘no moral entitlement’ to a £2.5 million dream home, a judge has ruled.

Miles Heaver, 46, claimed his father gave him the idyllic cottage on the family’s rolling West Stoke estate in Strettington when he got engaged 20 years ago.

The house, he told the High Court, was the least his farmer father, George Heaver, 74, owed him for his years of underpaid work in the family business.

Miles Heaver and his wife Bella have lived in Corner Cottage since they married in the 1990s and brought up their children there.

The couple said they spent £700,000 on improvements.

But Judge Edward Murray ruled George Heaver had never made any promises and his son ‘knowingly took a risk’ by spending on a property that was not legally his.

George Heaver and his forebears have been leading members of the farming gentry in the area for ‘many generations’, he said.

Miles Heaver told the court decades of working for his father and the family business had left him ‘just shattered’.

He said: “I had done my absolute utmost for them every day of the week for 20 years...I was just beyond it, exhausted and lost.”

But George Heaver told the judge he did not want to see his ancestral estate ‘asset-stripped’.

He let his son and daughter-in-law live in the house to ‘put a roof over their heads’ and planned to retire there himself, he said.

Ruling against Miles and Bella Heaver, Judge Murray said George Heaver had neither given them Corner Cottage, nor promised to leave it to them in his will.

And he was ‘mistaken in law’ if he believed the money he spent gave him some kind of right to the property.

But Judge Murray added that ‘the possibility remains open’ that Miles Heaver may one day inherit Corner Cottage.