Son loses Corby Castle £1.5m family legal row

A man has lost a £1.5m legal battle with his baronet father to recoup money from the sale of the family castle.

Sir John Howard-Lawson sold the 13th Century Corby Castle estate in north Cumbria in 1994, but his son claimed it was not his to sell.

Philip Howard, 49, took his bid to recover his "inheritance" to London's High Court.

But the court ruled Sir John had complied with the terms of a 1934 family will and did own the estate.

Mr Howard, a business consultant, had claimed his father, 76, whose original surname was Lawson, had "forfeited" his right to inherit the castle in 1962 by neglecting to comply with some terms in his great grandfather's will.

The estate had been in the family for 400 years before it was sold owing to financial difficulties.

'Complex and tortuous'

Christopher Pymont QC, for Mr Howard, argued Sir John never legally owned the castle and its thousands of acres of land.

In his will written in 1934, Philip Canning Howard said his heirs had to change their surname to Howard and take up the family coat of arms within a 12-month deadline, London's High Court heard.

In his evidence, Sir John, who represented himself, insisted he had begun to use the name Howard during the crucial 12-month timespan ending in January 1962.

Mrs Justice Proudman described the case as "very sad" and said the terms of the will were "complex and tortuous."

The baronet claimed the family had to sell up and leave Corby Castle when Philip Howard got into financial difficulties after taking on a major part of the estate.

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