Money pundit's will ruled valid after deal

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 April, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 April, 1997, 12:00am

The final will of financial pundit Leon Richardson was at last declared valid yesterday - but not in the way he had intended.

A multi-million dollar deal, sealed after hours of wrangling, ensures his elderly widow will receive a substantial slice of the fortune he left to the RSPCA.

Margie Richardson, 77, claimed her husband had 'lost his mind' when he made the will.

But two of his former employees, who witnessed the making of the will, said yesterday outside court he appeared happy and normal at the time.

Details of the settlement were not revealed in court, and lawyers said the figures involved must remain secret.

But sources have revealed the estate, to be divided into almost equal shares, could leave Mrs Richardson with as much as $100 million.

Her husband made the will eight days before his death in May, 1995, and left everything to the RSPCA.

She claimed he had been of unsound mind and started the court battle.

Michael Thomas QC, for the executors, told the judge that last-minute disputes over the agreement had been resolved.

The will was removed from a brown envelope by Deputy Judge Edward Woolley, who declared it valid.

He also endorsed the deal which secures Mrs Richardson the share her husband had tried to deny her.

John Scott QC, for the widow, said the order would 'bring this unhappy saga to an end'.

Mrs Richardson claimed her husband began suffering from morbid jealousy and accused her of sleeping with gigolos and hiring triads to murder him. She said he changed dramatically during the last months of their 'blissfully happy' 40-year marriage.

But Mr Richardson's former secretary Nazita Ibrahim, who typed the will, said: 'He was happy in his last days. He seemed normal. He did his radio shows right up until that time.' His former driver, Michael Leung Wai-chi, said: 'He remained a nice guy and a good employer until the day he died. I didn't notice any change in him.' After the hearing Brian Walsh, the RSPCA's legal adviser, said: 'We are satisfied with the outcome and pleased the family did not have to go through with what would have been a dreadful ordeal.' The settlement, which provides the RSPCA with their biggest ever donation, spared Mrs Richardson from giving evidence.

Richardson, who worked on the US atom bomb project and was kidnapped by insurgents in Guatemala in 1981, was a dog lover who owned a poodle named Maggie.

The RSPCA is expected to use the inheritance, in cash and bonds all over the world, to expand its operations in Britain.

The Hong Kong Society for Protection of Animals said it was disappointed that it would not receive a dollar from the man who spent much of his life in the territory.