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Billionaire siblings locked in bitter court fight over their late mother's £40million fortune

Two billionaire siblings are locked in a bitter court battle over their late mother's £40million inheritance. 

Upon her death four years ago, Patricia Moores left behind a £40million estate including a £2million six-bedroom home and sizeable trust set up more than 70 years ago by her father, the Littlewoods empire founder Cecil Moores. 

However, the will has sparked an acrimonious legal feud among her three adult children – Christian, Rebecca and Matthew Velarde – over who will inherit Mrs Moores's part of the family fortune.

Her eldest son Christian Velarde says their mother intended his younger brother Matthew to be cut out to prevent his ex-wife from making a claim. 

Matthew – supported by his sister Rebecca – argues he is entitled to a third share because his mother's will 'clearly' set out her plan to split the estate equally.

A judge at the High Court earlier this year ruled in Matthew's favour, but Christian is continuing to insist the fund is solely for him and Rebecca.

The Moores are one of Britain's richest families, with an estimated fortune of £1.21billion amassed through the Littlewoods football pools and mail order retail empire. Over the years, the family has owned both Liverpool and Everton football clubs.

Matthew Velarde (left), son of the billionaire family behind the Littlewoods empire, won a High Court inheritance fight earlier this year over the £40million fortune left by mother Patricia Moores (right)

Pictured: The £2millioon home of Patricia Moores in the Isle of Man

Littlewoods empire family the Moores: How sons of bricklayers built empire and amassed fortune of £1.21billion

The Moores are one of Britain's richest families, with an estimated fortune of £1.21billion amassed through the Littlewoods football pools and mail order retail empire. Over the years, the family has owned both Liverpool and Everton football clubs. 

The empire was built from scratch by Sir John Moores, aided by his brother Cecil Moores, with the pair rising from being the sons of a bricklayer to having at one point three female family members said to be richer than the Queen.

In 1992, Business Age magazine, ranking Britain's wealthiest women, put Moores family members Donabella Moores, Lady Grantchester and Patricia Martin in the top ten, with bigger fortunes than the Queen's reported £100m at the time.

The brothers were immortalised in bronze as statues on Liverpool's Church Street, where the pools company was founded, and Sir John had the city's John Moores University named after him.

The company was sold to the Barclay brothers in 2002 for £750million, leaving many members of the family with vast multimillion pound fortunes.

The empire was built from scratch by Sir John Moores, aided by his brother Cecil Moores, with the pair rising from being the sons of a bricklayer to having at one point three female family members said to be richer than the Queen.

In 1992, Business Age magazine, ranking Britain's wealthiest women, put Moores family members Donabella Moores, Lady Grantchester and Patricia Martin in the top ten, with bigger fortunes than the Queen's reported £100m at the time.

The brothers were immortalised in bronze as statues on Liverpool's Church Street, where the pools company was founded, and Sir John had the city's John Moores University named after him.

The company was sold to the Barclay brothers in 2002 for £750million, leaving many members of the family with vast multimillion pound fortunes. But in the wake of Mrs Moores's death, her children have been fighting over her share of the family millions.

Christian's barrister, Penelope Reed QC, told Judge Ashley Greenbank that Mrs Moores had appointed her three children as equal beneficiaries in 1981, only to perform a U-turn in 1997 and cut out Matthew in the wake of his divorce.

A single clause of her will states: 'I leave devise bequeath and appoint the whole of my real estate and the rest residue and remainder of my personal estate...unto my children Peter Christian Velarde, Matthew Julian Velarde and Rebecca Velarde.'

A court previously heard how Matthew argued that the clause meant she had revoked her 1997 appointment of his siblings as the only beneficiaries of the fund.

But appealing, Ms Reed told the judge last week that that was not enough and that she would need to have specifically revoked the 1997 decision if she wanted to include Matthew as a beneficiary.

Pointing to evidence from Christian, she said Matthew's divorce lay behind Mrs Moores's decision to remove him as a beneficiary of the trust, while there had also been a 'general cooling' of the relationship between them.

'Matthew was divorcing his wife around that time and she was making inquiries about the family trusts and whether Matthew was a beneficiary of them,' she told the judge. 

'That was the reason for this exclusion.'

She said there was 'simply insufficient' wording in the will for a judge to find that she intended to revoke her 1997 decision and bring Matthew back in as a beneficiary.

Pictured: Rebecca Velarde, who was involved in the High Court case over her mother's fortune

'Our simple point is there is no mention at all of the appointment in 1997,' she said.

'This clause [of the will] was not intended to bear the weight of undoing something so carefully thought about in 1997.'

Matthew's barrister Rodney Stewart Smith said the judge had been right earlier this year in ruling that the will was intended to make sure Mrs Moores's assets should be split equally.

The siblings's fight was sparked by her final will, signed in 2007, which split all of her worldwide assets apart from specific gifts equally between her children.

Christian was left a gold orchid broach with ruby centre and diamond leaves with matching gold and diamond earrings, while Matthew was given a gold Cartier watch, his mother's gold Russian three ring wedding ring, a three-strand pearl necklace with a large emerald and diamond clasp and two pairs of diamond earrings. 

Sir John Moores (pictured left in 1951) founded the Littlewoods empire with his brother Cecil

Rebecca received an art deco diamond bracelet set in platinum, diamond and pearl earrings, a diamond fern and flower broach and a Leo medallion in gold and silver.

Five grandchildren were also left specific gifts of jewellery, plus £1million to split equally between them.

In his witness statement, Matthew said the divorce and all its financial fallout had been concluded by 1998, that his ex had remarried a 'wealthy' man herself in 1999, and had never tried to make any claim against him.

Refuting the suggestion of a 'general cooling' of the mother-son relationship, Mr Stewart Smith added: 'Matthew denies this, and the fact that he was throughout a one-third beneficiary of Mrs Moores's residuary estate supports that.'

Mrs Moores had twice stated that all her worldwide assets should be taken account of and divided equally between her three children, he added.

'The making of the will was no doubt an occasion on which Mrs Moores reviewed all the dispositions she wished to make on her death,' he said.

The judge will give his decision on the inheritance battle at a later date.