Judge suggests mediation in dispute over use of veteran journalist's finances A District Court judge has urged the family of veteran journalist Clare Hollingworth and the public-relations manager they are suing for allegedly stealing her money to settle the matter out of court. Judge David Gill yesterday ruled in favour of an appeal by Ms Hollingworth's lawyers that would determine whether Ted Thomas must present under oath a detailed account of what happened to the money he claimed to have invested for her. The 94-year-old former journalist for The Daily Telegraph - who gained fame by breaking the story of the outbreak of the second world war in 1939 - had been close friends with Mr Thomas, the court heard. He became trustee of her bank account and financial affairs in January 2003. Nigel Bedford, acting for Mr Thomas, said his client had given a full and accurate account of what had happened to Ms Hollingworth's money. However, Alexander Stock, acting for Ms Hollingworth, described Mr Thomas' account of what he had done with the money as 'fundamentally flawed and wholly inadequate'. The legal teams of both sides were in court yesterday to hear an appeal against a decision that a hearing into Ms Hollingworth's mental capacity should be heard before Mr Thomas would be required to give a sworn account of what happened to the $1.46 million, transferred into Mr Thomas' account from that of the journalist while she was in hospital. Mr Stock said Mr Thomas had admitted charging Ms Hollingworth $400 an hour 'to talk to her about his take on current affairs' because she still wrongly believed she was a correspondent for The Daily Telegraph. Mr Stock said those talks cost her a total of $96,200. The court heard that 77-year-old Mr Thomas - who runs his own public relations company, Corporate Communications - had repaid a substantial amount of the disputed money, but that $1.18 million remained unaccounted for. Mr Stock read a statement from Ms Hollingsworth's doctor who last saw her in February stating that she was mentally alert and capable of managing her affairs. However, Mr Bedford said the fact that Ms Hollingworth had so far not provided an affidavit to the proceedings was 'significant and surprising' given that her lawyers' maintained she was capable of managing her own affairs. After he made his ruling on the appeal, Judge Gill suggested to the parties that in light of the rising costs of the case, Ms Hollingworth's age and declining health, and the fact that the two Foreign Correspondents Club regulars were formerly close friends, the dispute should be settled out of court. 'I wonder whether this is a classic case to be resolved by way of mediation. I wonder if the parties and those advising them have given consideration to that course,' he said. 'I would bet a row of houses that there will be a lot more costs incurred if the case runs its full course. There is a further issue of time. The plaintiff is elderly ... It would be sad if the latter years of her life were to be devoted to this.'