Forged Will is actually genuine, concludes High Court

Published: 20/03/2013

Gillian Clemo, the long term partner of millionaire Chris John, will attempt to have her criminal conviction overturned after the Will she was believed to have forged has been ruled to be genuine.

The case, which Goldsmith Williams first reported on back in May 2011, was a complicated affair. Chris John died from a brain haemorrhage back in September 2008, leaving an estate worth £5 million. At first his Will could not be found and so the rules of intestacy were to be applied to the estate.

Under these rules, unmarried partners are not entitled to any part of the estate; in Miss Clemo’s case this even included the house in which they has shared for seven years. Instead it was actually Mr John’s presumed ex-wife who had the strongest claim on his estate after it transpired the pair had never legally divorced.

Mr John’s Will, appointing his sister, Melissa, as Executor and Guardian then emerged, produced by Clemo three days after learning of her partner’s existing marriage. Accusations were raised and South Wales police decided to prosecute Miss Clemo on the basis of some indentation marks on the document.

Miss Clemo was convicted and fined £1000 plus £8500 in costs despite a handwriting expert testifying that the disputed Will was genuine. (Mrs John also admitted adding a forged codicil to the Will and received a police caution).

However after Miss Clemo’s conviction Melissa, upon sorting through her brother’s papers, found an another Will identical to the apparent forgery, down to the testator’s and witnesses’ signature and, as a consequence, instructed solicitors to oppose Helen John’s claim on the estate.

The dispute has finally been resolved and the Will has been upheld. Helen John’s application for a grant of representation in intestacy has been rejected and Miss Clemo’s will now try to have her conviction overturned.

Content correct at time of publication

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