Battle as woman, 53, inherits home from female lover twice her age

Battle as woman, 53, inherits home from female lover twice her age

December 2, 2018

Woman, 53, who inherited £1.25m home from female lover twice her age, depriving Oxford don son of his estate, got ANOTHER multi million pound house from a second elderly lady

  • Wendy Cook, 53, inherited £1.25m home from her civil partner Jean Weddell, 87
  • Ms Weddel’s son, an Oxford University academic, is suing over lost inheritance
  • It can now be revealed that Ms Cook previously inherited from another woman
  • Inherited £2.5million from ‘beyond doddery’ spinster Jean Southworth in 2010  

A woman involved in an inheritance row with the family of her elderly civil partner had previously inherited £2.5million from another spinster, it can be disclosed.

Wendy Cook inherited millions of pounds after the deaths of the two wealthy and ‘beyond doddery’, elderly women who both abandoned their lives in London to live with her on the Isle of Wight.

Miss Cook, 53, was named in the High Court as the woman who benefited from the estate of her civil partner, Dr Jean Weddell, after Dr Weddell had sold her house for £710,000 in 2008.

Wendy Cook (right) with Jean Weddell. They became civil partners in 2007 and Ms Weddell sold her house a year later

The Edwardian terraced home, in Kennington, south London, is now worth £1.25million.

Dr Weddell’s son, Professor Christopher Gosden, is taking legal action against the solicitors who drew up a trust in 2003 that he expected to deliver his mother’s house, or the money from its sale, to him and his family after her death.

Instead Professor Gosden, director of the institute of archaeology at Oxford University and a fellow of Keble College, Oxford, was not informed of the sale of his mother’s house. 

Distinguished physician Dr Weddell and Miss Cook, a barrister and one-time parliamentary candidate, became civil partners in 2007, despite a 37-year age gap. Dr Weddell was nearly twice Miss Cook’s age.

The £1.25m London house in Kennington, London, formerly belonging to Dr Jean Weddell, which is now at the centre of a court battle

Before she died in 2013 aged 84, Dr Weddell gifted much of her estate to Miss Cook, documents lodged at the High Court in London revealed.

Now it has emerged that Miss Cook also inherited £2.5million from Jean Southworth QC, a former judge and Bletchley Park codebreaker.

A neighbour on the Isle of Wight said yesterday: ‘Wendy seemed to adopt old people – and ended up living with these two Jeans here. They were so frail and bowed over, beyond doddery.’

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Miss Southworth also sold her home to move with Miss Cook to Newport on the Isle of Wight. The smart terraced property in Bayswater, west London, went for £2million.

She died of septicaemia in 2010 aged 83 and her will, written on the island less than three months earlier, disposed of £5.3million, with Miss Cook being the biggest recipient.

Miss Southworth’s godson, investment manager Nicholas Falla, challenged the will and his £450,000 bequest. He declined to comment. The case was settled by confidential mediation last year.

Oxford don Professor Christopher Gosden, son of Dr Jean Weddell. He was disinherited after his mother formed a civil partnership with a lawyer 37-years her junior

The roll of honour for Bletchley Park – the Second World War codebreaking centre – shows that Jean May Southworth served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service, writing intelligence reports from German navy Enigma signals decrypted by Hut 8 – the section initially led by Alan Turing.

She was a judge for 21 years. Former neighbours yesterday compared her to fellow Bletchley Park veteran Baroness Trumpington, who died last week aged 96. One said: ‘They were both powerful, amazing women.’

Miss Cook qualified as a barrister in 1997 but was suspended from the legal profession in 2015 after she was caught drink-driving twice in the space of a few months.

She was banned from driving for five years and fined.

When a newspaper discovered her conviction, Miss Cook was forced to resign as an independent parliamentary candidate for the Isle of Wight only a week after announcing that she would stand in the 2015 general election.

A legal source said: ‘Wendy used to be a lowly clerk for the Crown Prosecution Service before becoming a barrister in her mid-30s.

‘After leaving London for the Isle of Wight she seems to have got the money together for her own old age, thanks to this elderly doctor, and Jean Southworth, who was still working in the Bailey when Wendy was a clerk there.’

Miss Cook now lives in a large detached Victorian villa in Newport, and owns a number of properties on the island which she rents out.

She referred inquiries by the Daily Mail to her solicitor, saying she was unable to comment on Dr Weddell’s case because she is due to be a witness, and that the settlement over Miss Southworth’s will was confidential.

A solicitor for Miss Cook failed to respond to a request for comment.

After her political resignation, she wrote online: ‘The pressure of caring for two elderly people and the loss of my home resulted in a significant if not major breakdown.’   

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