THREE charities have spoken out in support of the RSPCA, which has refused to concede defeat in its three-year legal row over a £2m farm.
The charities say they are concerned about the implications of the High Court ruling that handed 287-acre Potto Carr Farm, in Potto, North Yorkshire, to university lecturer Dr Christine Gill.
In October, Dr Gill wept with relief after a judge ruled that the will of her mother, Joyce, which handed the farm to the animal charity, was invalid.
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In a further ruling last month, Judge James Allen ordered the charity to pay the majority of the £1.3m legal fees incurred by both sides.
However, the RSPCA announced yesterday that it had lodged an appeal against the court’s original decision.
The move has the backing of three other charities, which yesterday issued a joint statement with the RSPCA.
The three charities are the Charities Aid Foundation, the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
Their statement read: “This case has been troubling for many charities and we are very concerned at its possible implications for the charity sector.
“It is unacceptable for charity trustees to be caught between the legal duty to secure assets to which the charity is entitled and the threat of huge legal costs being imposed for attempting to do so.
“It is crucial that this matter is finally settled, one way or the other, so that charities can be more certain of the legal landscape, and can plan accordingly.”
The charities said they wanted to focus their efforts on helping society – not spending time in courtrooms.
Mother-of-one Dr Gill took the RSPCA to court after she found her parents’ farm had been left the charity in the will of her mother, who died in August 2006, aged 82.
She had signed a mirror will with her husband, John Arthur Gill, 13 years before her death.
The document meant that when one of them died, the farm and all their savings passed to the other.
When both were dead, the farm went to the RSPCA.
Dr Gill and her solicitors, Mishcon de Reya, declined to comment last night.