Julie Mate, a 62-year-old farmer’s daughter, has received a piece of her father’s £9 million inheritance.
Julie went to court against Andrew and Robert Mate after their father favored them in his will. The pair were awarded the whole West Yorkshire dairy farm of their parents.
In recounting how she assisted in the operation of the farm, the plaintiff revealed that she even sacrificed her school and social life to assist. In a letter to her mother in 2014, she described her childhood farm work as “forced labor.”
She further explained how she was left “devastated and dumbfounded” when her dad Donald Mate died in 1992 and left his share of the farm to his wife Shirley and sons, with Shirley, now 89, later also giving her share to the boys.
Julie said she and her two sisters being left out of the farm fortune and being given £12,000 each, is sexism.
She also narrated how she worked to get the land removed from the Green Belt so that it could be built on. This dramatically increased the value of the land but Julie did not get a major share of the rewards. She revealed that she began to look for ways the farm could make money after it began struggling in the 2000s.
She said she was encouraged by her mum from 2007 and looked at the potential for the development of 40 acres of farmland. Julie said she worked on the project between 2008 and 2015 with a planning consultant and was under the impression that, if it was profitable, she would see an equal share of the rewards. The local council approved it for housing in 2012, and Julie called her brother Andrew to update him.
Mirror reported that she told him she had done the work “on behalf of the girls,” to which Andrew is said to have asked angrily: “What’s it got to do with you?”
Julie said the brothers made it clear to her that she should not return to the business after university, even though she wanted to. She said she has not always had the best relationship with her brothers Robert, now 65, and Andrew, 60, and recalled an incident when a 17-year-old Andrew had driven a Land Rover at her in the farmyard.
Julie also claimed Robert once put his hand around her throat and told her “you’re not coming back.” Both brothers denied the incidents occurred.
The land Julie had worked to get valued was included in the council’s Local Plan in 2015, but her mum and brothers agreed a £9million sale to developers Persimmon Homes without telling her.
Ruling on the case, Judge Andrew Sutcliffe KC said;
“Although Robert and Andrew denied or did not recall these incidents, I accept that they occurred.
“I also accept that from at least this time, and probably before then, the relationship between Julie and her brothers was strained, caused in part by the interest which Julie had shown in the farm and the brothers’ determination that she should not be involved.
“In her view, it meant the sisters were subsidising their brothers so that they could have a life on the family farm, which was something she was not given the opportunity to pursue.
“I accept Julie’s evidence that at no time did she tell either of her brothers or Shirley that she would work on this project for nothing, without expectation of any reward.
“Shirley, Andrew and Robert obtained the benefit of Julie’s services, at Julie’s expense, in circumstances where they had notice of the services, they knew that Julie expected a reward for her services, and they could have rejected the benefit, but did not.”
Julie has now received a £652,000 payout from her brothers’ fortune after the land that was left to them went from £300,000 to £9 million. The lady who studied animal science at university, worked as an agricultural journalist and then as a senior executive in dairy companies and farming organisations.