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Aristocrat's Wills Challenge Ends

In August 2006, Mark Birley, the founder of an aristocratic night spot in London, passed away leaving an amassed fortune of £105 million. The extraordinary dispute over the multi million pound legacy that has split one of Britain’s leading society families, has been privately settled. Shortly before his death, Mark Birley tore up his original Will after an argument sparked by the discovery that his son had used £200,000 of the night club’s profits. He had used the money to hire a private detective after he suspected his sister’s new partner was a gold digger. Mark Birley rewrote his Will following this dispute with his son, Robin Birley, and a further disagreement over the management of the renowned nightclub ‘Annabel’s’. The amended Will left the majority of his fortune to his daughter India-Jane on trust for his grandchild, leaving his son with a tax free bequest of just £1 million in comparison. Prior to the amended Will, Mark Birley’s wealth was to be divided equally between the siblings. As a result legal action was initiated by Robin Birley on the basis that his father was not of sound mind when he changed his Will. Robin was unsuccessful in his attempt to freeze the assets of the Trust held by his sister who subsequently pursued the case claiming that her father was in full possession of his faculties when the Will was amended. The legal battle between the siblings had continued for 16 months until now. The judge urged the siblings to reach an agreement rather than proceeding with lengthy and costly legal battles. A private hearing conducted in the High Court has allowed the parties to end the bitter feud and escalating legal fees to reach a settlement just in time for the festive period. Robin Birley has been offered a third of his father’s estate, equating to approximately £35 million less the £200,000 which sparked the sibling’s feud in the first place. Mark Birley had apparently anticipated that the Will would be challenged and left a letter to his daughter, India, to explain why he had sold his empire for £207 million against the wishes of his friends and family.

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