Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom loses Hampshire house claim

Niklas Zennstroem
Image caption Niklas Zennstroem co-founded internet phone service Skype in 2004

The co-founder of Skype has lost a legal case against the former owners of his home who he claimed left the property in a "shambolic" state.

Niklas Zennstrom said the £1.1m luxury house in Hamble, Hampshire, was uninhabitable and had to be demolished.

He alleged previous owners Deborah Wilks and Helen Moseley built it with the sole intention of making a profit.

Dismissing the claim, the judge ruled the women built it as their "dream home" before they were forced to sell.

'Peeling an onion'

Mr Zennstrom, ex-owner of the internet phone service, bought the Hamble property in 2009 but then demolished it and built a new home.

Image caption How the £1.1m luxury home looked before it was demolished

In a preliminary hearing last year at the Technology and Construction court at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Zennstrom and his wife Catherine said the house in the exclusive estate of Crowsport was so poorly constructed it was simply "not fit for habitation".

The couple claimed Ms Wilks and Ms Moseley only built the house in order to sell it for a healthy profit.

Despite carrying out detailed surveys before buying it, Mr Zennstrom claims major defects were only discovered later.

The Swedish entrepreneur, who made hundreds of millions of pounds when he sold his stake in Skype to Microsoft as part of a £5bn deal, compared the defective structure to peeling an onion.

Not in court

But Ms Moseley and Ms Wilks, from Netley in Hampshire, called the property their dream home but were forced to sell it for financial reasons after Ms Wilks changed careers.

In a statement, they said: "From start to finish, the case was a relentless battle.

"It was a thoroughly awful experience that we would not wish on anyone.

Image caption Mr Zennstrom has since rebuilt the property

"Whilst relieved this claim has finally come to a successful conclusion...we are both physically and mentally drained by the whole ordeal."

In his judgement, Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart concluded that the defendants had no intention of selling the home.

He added: "The evidence points overwhelmingly, in my view, to the conclusion that they built it as their dream home as they have always contended."

Mr Zennstrom, 46, who was not at court for the judgement, is still trying to sue all those responsible for building it - including its architect, builder and structural engineer - for about £1m.

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