UK

Cecil Parkinson's disabled child in 'financial hardship'

Cecil Parkinson with Margaret Thatcher Image copyright PA
Image caption Cecil Parkinson was a key member of Margaret Thatcher's government before revelations about an affair with his secretary in 1983 forced him to resign

The disabled daughter of the late Conservative Party chairman Cecil Parkinson is living in "serious financial hardship", a court has heard.

Flora Keays has received nothing from her father's estate since shortly after his 2016 death, the High Court heard.

Her mother Sara, who was the politician's secretary, is suing his estate for more money on her behalf.

The latest hearing was to determine if Sara Keays could make legal decisions on behalf of her 34-year-old daughter.

Sara Keays has "devoted her life" to her disabled daughter's care, the court heard, with the pair still living together.

The executors of Lord Parkinson's £1.14m will wanted to remove Sara Keays as her daughter's "litigation friend", saying the 70-year-old's role was tainted by her "highly litigious" relationship with Lord Parkinson and her "bizarre perception" that there was a conspiracy against her.

But the judge Master Clark said she was not satisfied Sara Keays was unsuitable for the role.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sara Keays was Cecil Parkinson's secretary

However, Sara Keays agreed to step aside and appoint a solicitor to the role.

The court heard Flora Keays, who has mental and physical disabilities, used to receive £20,000 a year paid quarterly from her father.

But she has not received any money since March 2016, two months after his death, and was left out of his will as a "separate provision" had been made.


Who is Flora Keays?

Flora Keays is the 34-year-old daughter of Cecil Parkinson, who was a leading Tory politician, and his secretary Sara Keays.

The affair was a major scandal - Mr Parkinson was a married man - and he was forced to resign from Margaret Thatcher's cabinet in 1983 when it was revealed Ms Keays was pregnant with his child.

Flora Keays was diagnosed at an early age with learning disabilities and Asperger's syndrome, and had an operation to remove a brain tumour when she was four.

In 1993, Lord Parkinson and Sara Keays secured an injunction to prevent any information being published about Flora or her schooling until she turned 18.

In an interview in 2002, after the gagging order had expired, Flora Keays said her father had "behaved very badly" towards her and her mother but hoped that one day he would become "part of our lives".

Lord Parkinson, who had three children with his wife, died in January 2016 aged 84.


This referred to a £350,000 life insurance policy held in trust of which Flora Keays is the nominated beneficiary but no payments have been received from it.

In March 2017, Sara Keays issued a claim seeking £12,000 to clear mortgage arrears, funds for a new house for Flora Keays and £50,000 a year for maintenance.

The following month, Sara Keays was facing possession proceedings but was able to pay the arrears with a fee from a newspaper interview.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The MP resigned shortly after it emerged Sara Keays was pregnant with his child in 1983

Further arrears accrued, said the judge, and been discharged by the trustees on an ad-hoc basis.

Master Clark said: "Ms Keays' evidence - which is uncontradicted - is that this has caused her embarrassment and difficulty with the mortgagee."

The judge said Sara Keays had not sought any money from Lord Parkinson since a maintenance order was introduced in 1993.

Master Clark said: "Ms Keays does express in her evidence anger and frustration that the support provided by the deceased to the claimant - as set out above - has been abruptly removed causing her and Ms Keays' serious financial hardship."

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