Mistress loses court dispute over late lover's will

A MISTRESS yesterday lost her High Court bid to prove her late lover's family hid a will leaving her "virtually everything".

Rowena Ferneley had given evidence that Charles Napier, who had terminal cancer, told her she was his "miracle cure" in the bedroom, and had promised to provide for her in his 500,000 will.

But Mr Napier's two children, Major Stephen Napier and Catherine Brooks, together with his brother, Derrick, disputed her claims saying their relationship was not "sincere".

They said she got rid of his will so she could claim their inheritance.

Mr Justice Mann, in a ruling today, said he was convinced Mrs Ferneley, 49, did have "a full and deep relationship" with Mr Napier but she had failed to establish that there was a conspiracy by the family to suppress a will.

"I confess that this is a conclusion which I reach without enthusiasm," he said.

He dismissed Mrs Ferneley's claim but then adjourned the case for an investigation into the existence of a signed 2002 will before ruling on the family's claim that Mr Napier died intestate, not having made a will.

Mr Napier, who died of cancer in a hospice in Esher, Surrey, in 2008 aged 65, had bought a house on the Isle of Wight where he intended to move.

The family searched the building for a will.

Mr Justice Mann said an electrician working on the house at the time claimed in court that he heard someone say they had "found it" and then a will was read out.

The electrician said he heard that Mrs Ferneley was left the bulk of Mr Napier's estate, including the 350,000 house.

The family said there was no signed will and a document that was found left the bulk of the estate to a former mistress, Terry Hayden, but was unsigned and therefore invalid.

The judge said of Mrs Ferneley: "She is clearly, and not surprisingly, very emotionally caught up in the events of this case."

"I think that sometimes her evidence contained a gloss of wishful thinking but she was, by her own lights, truthful."

Mrs Ferneley met Mr Napier in June 2005 when her marriage was unhappy and they began a close relationship nine months later.