Page last updated at 17:53 GMT, Thursday, 24 April 2008 18:53 UK

Couple in home dispute with WWF

A couple from Cornwall are planning to go to court to stay in a Georgian house which the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) claims it was left in a will.

Keith Lewis and his wife Patricia moved into the property in St Day to look after Mr Lewis' aunt, Doris Barnes, who died in June 2005 at the age of 90.

Mr Lewis said his aunt made a will in 1988 leaving them everything, and a trust deed in 1991 for them to stay.

She made another will in 2005, which the WWF said gives it the house.

Strong case

The couple have lived in the four-bedroom detached property for 20 years.

Mr Lewis said his aunt signed a trust deed In 1991 which on her death passed the property to him and his wife, and which was witnessed by a neighbour.

Just before Mrs Barnes died she made a new will dividing her property between the WWF and two other parties.

Seriously-ill Mr Lewis, 63, said that he and his 58-year-old wife - his carer - would "lose everything" and be left "on the streets" if the matter went against them.

Mr Lewis, a former tanker driver, is suffering from renal failure and undergoes dialysis four times a week while he hopes for a kidney transplant.

The WWF said in a statement it had "received legal advice that there is a strong case to set aside a trust deed, which left the benefit of Doris Barnes' property to Mr and Mrs Lewis".

'Valid document'

But Mr Lewis said he and his wife believed the trust deed was a "legal and valid document," adding "there are no grounds to overturn it".

Mr Lewis said they were "going to stick to our guns", adding that he and his wife had spent 40,000 on the property over the years.

"As far as I am concerned it is going to court," he said.

The WWF said it had made genuine attempts to settle the matter without the need for legal proceedings.

Because legal proceedings were active, it said it was unable to make any further comment pending the outcome of the proceedings.


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