Two sisters who called their dad “The Chequebook” have lost a second court fight with their stepmum over his £7million fortune.
Juliet Miles, 40, and Lauretta Shearer, 38, said Pamela Shearer was left in almost total control of the money left behind by their banker dad Tony Shearer when he died.
The financier – who was the former head of merchant bank Singer and Friedlander and finance governor of Rugby School – passed away from a brain tumour at the age of 68 in October 2017.
Almost all of his fortune – which his daughters estimate to be around £7m – was left in the hands of his wife Pamela, the High Court heard.
Earlier this year, the sisters lost a High Court fight against their stepmum after demanding “maintenance” from their dad’s estate to replace the “generous financial provision” they expected from him while alive.
But their case failed after Sir Julian heard Ms Shearer, 68, a marketing executive who married Mr Shearer in 2007, insist the women were due nothing and say they were “entitled” and “interested in their dad only for his money”.
In evidence, she said Mr Shearer had cut them out because he was “upset” by their “demands for money,” telling the judge: “I’m going to quote King Lear here: ‘sharper than a serpent’s tooth’ is an ungrateful child – and that is how my husband felt”.
Last week, the sisters took their case back to court, where their lawyers urged Sir Julian to let them fight on.
The sisters had sued their stepmum for “reasonable provision” from the estate, claiming that after he left their mum in 2006 and met Ms Shearer, their dad unfairly stopped helping them, having previously looked after them financially during their lives.
Although his will left an estate worth £2,184,976 to Ms Shearer, the sisters said that when other non-estate property including heirlooms and expensive wine were taken into account, their stepmum was left with almost £7m and so there was plenty to share.
Juliet, who lives with her mum Jennifer in the £1.6m Old Vicarage at Enford, near Pewsey, Wiltshire, “a large, detached period house in extensive grounds with a swimming pool,” claimed £915,991 from her dad’s estate.
Her sister, who earns £57,000 a year working for auction house Sotheby’s and lives in west London, claimed £350,154, with both saying they intended to use the money for housing.
Part of the daughters’ claim was based on the allegation that their stepmum had altered her “mirror” will after Tony’s death, contrary to his wishes, to totally exclude them or their children from any future inheritance after her own death.
Ms Shearer in evidence refused to give the “private” details of her will, but told the judge she had “not revoked” any provision which Tony may have made for his extended family.
Throwing out the daughters’ challenge, Sir Julian said: “Pamela gave evidence that she had not altered her will and that she would respect Tony’s wishes. That’s what she said.”
He added: “The claimants’ case failed due to deficiencies in their own evidence, not because I wrongly assessed the evidence of the defendant.
“I was also entitled to conclude that (their mum) Jennifer would continue to provide financial support for her daughters.
“Tony had made it clear they should have no expectation of inheritance.”
During the trial of the case earlier this year, the daughters claimed their dad “changed” when he married Ms Shearer, with a rift forming so deep that he refused to walk Lauretta down the aisle at her wedding after he was told his new wife was not invited.
In the witness box, Ms Shearer told the judge that it was Juliet and Lauretta’s “repeated requests for money” that had been getting their dad down before he made his will leaving everything to her.
“Parents deserve a bit of respect. Those two girls enjoyed a luxury lifestyle,” she said.
On this point, the judge said in his first ruling: “Pamela’s evidence was that Tony had said he did not always enjoy seeing the claimants because he knew the encounter would end with a request for money, which he found distasteful.
“I am satisfied that he did say that and that there was an element of truth to it.
“He had told her they were wayward and out of control (as teenagers).
“He also told her that (when younger) both claimants referred to him as ‘The Chequebook’, which they found amusing but he found hurtful.
“In my judgment, not only was she telling the truth about what Tony had told her, but the things he told her were substantially correct.
“I have concluded that Tony did not have any obligations or responsibilities towards either of the claimants at the time of his death.
“Whilst the claimants may well have enjoyed an affluent lifestyle until they were in their early twenties, when their parents divorced they were not entitled to expect that standard of living indefinitely, nor did they in fact do so, given that, as I have held, the lifestyle choices they both made in terms of marriage and family were not dependent upon their father’s financial support.
“Tony had made generous provision for both claimants with the gift of money in 2008 which they were able to invest in property.
“He made it clear at that time that they could not expect any further financial assistance from him.”