Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Monday, 14 July 2008 15:17 UK

Actress loses 2.3m estate claim

Hetty Baynes and Ken Russell
Hetty Baynes was married to Ken Russell in the 1990s

An actress has lost her battle over the 2.3m estate of a woman who had a lesbian relationship with her mother.

Hetty Baynes, 51, who was married to film director Ken Russell, was seeking financial provision against the estate of the late Mary Spencer Watson.

She said Miss Spencer Watson treated her as her daughter and supported her financially before her death in 2006.

But the claim, which included the family home in Purbeck, Dorset, was dismissed at the High Court on Monday.

The court heard that in about 1955 Miss Spencer Watson granted a lease of Dunshay Manor to Ms Baynes's father, Geoffrey, who then married Margot.

'Exploited generosity'

The judge said: "Mary and Margot developed a friendship which, within a relatively short time, became an intimate relationship."

Mr Baynes left the manor within a few years and got divorced from his wife.

Mr Justice Lewison heard that Miss Spencer Watson's estate was made up of the 2m Dunshay Manor, which was left to the building preservation charity, the Landmark Trust.

The rest - just over 300,000 - was in investments, business assets and works of art.

Ms Baynes' claim was for 175,000 to discharge her debts, around 600,000 to buy a home, a 25,000 "cushion" to enable her to pursue her career and 7,500 for a car.

Rejecting Ms Baynes's claim, Mr Justice Lewison, said: "I find... that Mary made no firm commitment of any sort to Hetty.

"In my judgment, she exploited Mary's generosity at the end of 2005 and the early part of 2006 and brought pressure to bear on her to bail her out yet again.

"From December 2005 to the end of Mary's life, Hetty mounted a sustained campaign to persuade Mary to pay off her debts and provide for her future."

After the hearing Ms Baynes of Battersea, south-west London, said she was intending to appeal against the decision: "I don't agree it is settled yet," she said.

Mr Justice Lewison also rejected a 1.6m claim brought by Ms Baynes's mother, who is 90 and suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

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Biggleswade Chronicle Judge dismisses £2.3m estate claim - 18 hrs ago
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