Children of Littlewoods billionaire locked in battle over mum’s £40 million fortune

Two children of the British billionaire family behind the Littlewoods pools empire are locked in a new battle over their mum’s £40m-plus fortune amid claims she wanted to keep her former daughter-in-law’s hands off her cash.

The Moores, one of the UK’s richest families, enjoy a fortune estimated last year at £1.21bn, amassed through the iconic Littlewoods football pools and mail order retail empire, and over the years have owned both Liverpool and Everton football clubs.

The empire was built from scratch by Sir John Moores, aided by his brother Cecil Moores, with the pair rising from being the sons of a bricklayer to having at one point three female family members said to be richer than the Queen.

The company was sold to the Barclay brothers in 2002 for £750m, leaving many members of the family with vast multimillion pound fortunes.

But now the grandchildren of Cecil are fighting in court over the spoils of a valuable trust fund he set up more than 70 years ago for the benefit of future generations.

His daughter, Patricia Moores, died aged 86 in 2017, sparking a High Court battle involving her three children over who pockets the income from her share of the fund set up by her dad in 1949.

Matthew Velarde, who was involved in court case over his mum Patricia Moores’ estate


Champion News)

Her elder son, Christian Velarde, 63, says their mum intended his younger brother, Matthew, 61, be cut out of the fund because he had been divorced and she was worried that his ex-wife may make a claim to part of the money.

However, Matthew – backed by sister Rebecca – says he is entitled to a third share, because his mum’s will was clear in setting out her intention to split everything equally.

Earlier this year, a judge at the High Court ruled in Matthew’s favour – but Christian is continuing to fight, insisting the fund is just for him and his sister Rebecca.

His barrister, Penelope Reed QC, told Judge Ashley Greenbank that Mrs Moores had originally intended to split the fund between her three kids.

But in 1997 – amid Matthew’s divorce – she performed a u-turn, appointing only Christian and Rebecca as beneficiaries of the fund.

The siblings’ fight was sparked by her final will, signed in 2007, which split all of her worldwide assets – apart from specific gifts – equally between her children.

The estate was worth £40m at the time of her death, but that value did not include her entitlement to income from the trust fund, the court heard.

Christian was also left a gold orchid broach with ruby centre and diamond leaves with matching gold and diamond earrings, while Matthew was given a gold Cartier watch, his mum’s gold Russian three ring wedding ring, a three-strand pearl necklace with a large emerald and diamond clasp and two pairs of diamond earrings.

Rebecca received an art deco diamond bracelet set in platinum, diamond and pearl earrings, a diamond fern and flower broach and a Leo medallion in gold and silver, while five grandchildren were also left specific gifts of jewellery, plus £1m to split equally between them.

A single clause of her will however led to the ongoing fight. It states: “I leave devise bequeath and appoint the whole of my real estate and the rest residue and remainder of my personal estate…unto my children Peter Christian Velarde, Matthew Julian Velarde and Rebecca Velarde.”

Matthew – in a case backed by the High Court earlier this year – said that meant she had revoked her 1997 appointment of his siblings as the only beneficiaries of the fund.

But appealing, Ms Reed told the judge last week that that was not enough and that she would need to have specifically revoked the 1997 decision if she wanted to include Matthew as a beneficiary under her will.

Pointing to evidence from Christian, she said Matthew’s divorce lay behind Mrs Moores’ decision to remove him as a beneficiary of the trust, while there had also been a “general cooling” of the relationship between them.

“Matthew was divorcing his wife around that time and she was making inquiries about the family trusts and whether Matthew was a beneficiary of them,” she told the judge.

Picture shows the £2m home of Patricia Moores in the Isle of Man


Champion News)

“That was the reason for this exclusion.”

She said there was “simply insufficient” wording in the will for a judge to find that she intended to revoke her 1997 decision and bring Matthew back in as a beneficiary of the trust.

“Our simple point is there is no mention at all of the appointment in 1997,” she said.

She continued: “This clause [of the will] was not intended to bear the weight of undoing something so carefully thought about in 1997.”

But for Matthew, barrister Rodney Stewart Smith said the judge had been right earlier this year in ruling that the will was intended to make sure Mrs Moores’ assets – including her right to income from the trust – should be split equally.

Under her will, Matthew was to inherit a third of her multi-million pound estate, which did not suggest that she wanted to cut him off completely to avoid his ex-wife making a claim.

In his witness statement, Matthew said the divorce and all its financial fallout had been concluded by 1998, that his ex had remarried a “wealthy” man herself in 1999, and had never tried to make any claim against him.

Refuting the suggestion of a “general cooling” of the mother-son relationship, Mr Stewart Smith added: “Matthew denies this, and the fact that he was throughout a one-third beneficiary of Mrs Moores’s residuary estate supports that.”

Patricia Moores had twice stated that all her worldwide assets should be taken account of and divided equally between her three children, he added.

“The making of the will was no doubt an occasion on which Mrs Moores reviewed all the dispositions she wished to make on her death,” he said.

Mrs Moores – who died at her £2m six-bedroom Isle of Man home, which was set in 2.8 acres, with a pool and separate staff quarters – had reportedly received £25m from Littlewoods’ sale in 2002.

The company was built by the Moores brothers, who were later immortalised in bronze as statues in Liverpool, where the pools company was founded, and Sir John had the city’s John Moores University named after him.

In 1992, Business Age magazine, ranking Britain’s wealthiest women, put Moores family members Donabella Moores, Lady Grantchester and Patricia Martin in the top ten, with bigger fortunes than the Queen’s reported £100m at the time.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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