Two prominent elderly women each left the majority of their estates to Wendy Cook
A recent story has emerged from England about a woman who inherited millions of pounds from two elderly women who lived with her on the Isle of Wight in their final years.
The story originally focused on the legal case commenced by Professor Chris Gosden against the lawyers of his mother, Dr. Jean Weddell. Professor Gosden is the director of the Institute of Archaeology at Oxford University and a fellow of Keble College, Oxford.
Dr. Weddell died in 2013 at the age of 84. Before dying, Dr. Weddell sold her house in London for £710,000 in 2008. She then went to live with Miss Wendy Cook, who was 37 years younger, on the Isle of Wight. Dr. Weddell abandoned her life in London to live with Ms. Cook. The two of them became civil partners in 2007.
After Dr. Weddell’s death, Professor Gosden learned that Dr. Weddell had gifted much of her estate to Ms. Cook before dying. This was unexpected, as there was a trust in place allegedly leaving Dr. Weddell’s house in London, or proceeds from its sale, to Professor Godsen and his family after Dr. Weddell’s death.
As a result, Professor Gosden commenced proceedings at the High Court in London against the lawyers who prepared the trust and failed to notify him of the 2008 sale. Interestingly, Ms. Cook is not a party in these proceedings.
Ms. Cook received significant funds from another elderly woman who died in 2010
Another story online revealed more details about this scenario. Apparently, Ms. Cook received several million pounds from the estate of her former partner, distinguished female Judge and QC, Jean Southworth who died in 2010 at the age of 83. Ms. Southworth also left a London home after being asked by Ms. Cook to join her at the Isle of Wight. After her death, the home was sold for £2 million.
Additionally, it is alleged that Ms. Southworth’s last will left up to £2.5 million to Ms. Cook. The bulk of Ms. Southworth’s estate went to Ms. Cook.
Subsequently, Ms. Southworth’s godson, Nicholas Falla spent several years contesting Ms. Southworth’s will and his £450,000 bequest. According to the story, Mr. Falla settled his case at a confidential mediation, and he has not commented on the story involving Dr. Weddell.
Ms. Cook was in romantic relationships with Ms. Southworth and Dr. Weddell at different times
Ms. Cook has denied that all three were in a relationship at the same time. She had made it clear that although she had previously been in a relationship with Ms. Southworth, by 2006 Ms. Southworth had become her adopted mother and mentor.
There have been no allegations of lack of capacity or undue influence with respect to either of the elderly women. Although various online stories about the three women appear to be filled with negative innuendo, no allegations of impropriety have been proven in Court, and it appears none were made against Ms. Cook.
Additionally, it appears that although Ms. Cook was romantically involved with both of these elderly ladies at different times, she was also involved in their care in their final years.
Ms. Cook became a barrister in 1997, but was suspended from the legal profession in 2014 after she was caught drink-driving on two separate occasions. After he conviction, Ms. Cook had to resign as an independent parliamentary candidate for the Isle of Wight for the 2015 general election. After her resignation, she wrote online that the pressure of caring for two elderly people and the loss of her home resulted in “a significant if not major breakdown”.
According to the above stories, Ms. Cook lives currently lives in a large Victorian villa in Newport and owns a number of rental properties.
The details of the settlement with Mr. Falla remain confidential. Professor Gosden has not named Ms. Cook as a party in the Court proceeding currently before the London High Court. Ms Cook has also stated that Professor Gosden was cut out of his mother’s will only after he told her that she would be put into a home.
This will be an interesting story to follow.
More on this story here.