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Adoption, fostering and a bit complex!

(466 Posts)
zeebrugge Wed 29-Dec-10 18:32:40

I was adopted as a baby in 1971 and lived with my adopted parents until March 1987 when they were both drowned in the Zeebrugge Ferry disaster. I was put in short term foster care and then long term foster care until I timed out on my 18th birthday.

I was allowed to visit my former home, on the day after the funeral, to collect my belongings but never stayed there again. When my aunt and uncle came back from Denver in 1989 they lived there for a while.

Now I can sort of understand why I wasn't in the will, being adopted rather than a birth child. But as somebody told me over Christmas, and why I am writing, surely I was left something. Did I really matter so little.

ilove Wed 29-Dec-10 19:24:39

I would have assumed you inherited automatically as next of kin if you had been formally adopted? Maybe ask at CAB

troylawyer Wed 29-Dec-10 20:09:21

If you were legally adopted and you would need to obtain the court order and adoption certificate to prove this, you are treated in exactly the same way as a birth child for inheritance purposes and thus would inherit as a matter of law under the rules of intestacy if there was no will. If there was a will but you were not included in the will, you have a claim under the Inheritance Act but there are time limits associated with that and I cannot remember what they are off the top of my head. With all due respect to the CAB, I would suggest that you make an urgent appointment with a probate specialist solicitor as this is a specialist area of law.

zeebrugge Wed 29-Dec-10 20:20:07

I was certainly legally adopted as I have all the paperwork somewhere. I don't know about the will. I was only 16 at the time and had lost my Mum and Dad but I don't remember anybody saying anything about one and I certainly never went to a reading like on TV.

I've always assumed until last week that I was entitled to nothing and so got nothing. You make it seem different, like cheating?

troylawyer Wed 29-Dec-10 20:56:36

I don't understand your last comment about cheating. You are legally entitled to a share under the rules of intestacy and should have been included in the distribution of the estate in equal shares with any siblings, adopted or birth as the case may be. You really need to see a solicitor about this as you have as much right to a share of the estate as a birth child, that is the whole point of adoption!

CarGirl Wed 29-Dec-10 21:03:18

Actually on the reading around I have done even if you hadn't been legally adopted as a child financially dependent on them you would have had a claim.

If there was no guardian for you then the local authority should have protected your financial interests.

It does sound like you need to find out whether their was a will or not as your first port of call.

CarGirl Wed 29-Dec-10 21:05:01

Did your extended family treat you as if you were not a "real" daughter because you were adopted?

CarGirl Wed 29-Dec-10 21:06:19

There are six types of people who may contest a will:

• the spouse or civil partner
• a former spouse or civil partner - who has not remarried or formed a new civil partnership
• children
• step-children
• a partner who lived with the deceased for more than two years
• any other dependants

Anyone who was financially dependant on the deceased could theoretically have a claim.

If you are unhappy with the terms of a will, you may need to take legal advice in order to stop the assets of the estate from being distributed. This is called a caveat - it usually lasts for six months, but is renewable - and has been known to lead to disputes being resolved before they reach the court stage.

CarGirl Wed 29-Dec-10 21:08:46
prh47bridge Wed 29-Dec-10 23:44:11

The time limit for an Inheritance Act claim is 6 months from the grant of probate or letters of administration. The court has the power to extend this time limit. As your parents died 23 years ago you are almost certainly well outside the time limit (and presumably far too late to stop the assets being distributed).

You can get a copy of the wills (if there were any) from the Probate Registry for £5 each - you will need to look at both wills to be sure of how the estate should have been distributed. As part of this the Probate Registry will tell you the value of your parents' estate. That will allow you to work out how much you should have got, either from the wills or, if there were none, under the intestacy rules.

zeebrugge Thu 30-Dec-10 11:17:00

This is what I have managed to find out.

I was legally adopted and I have all the papers. They had no other children which is why I think they adopted me.

After they died I went into short term foster care to finish the school year. I can just about remember the social worker and another man coming to the school and the Head Master witnessing my signature on some papers. This might have been about June 1987.

That summer I moved to long term foster care in a different town. I think my aunt and uncle arranged this because my foster Mum knew them from somewhere. In those days foster carers didn't get paid very much and I had to give half of my wages towards my keep. There were 3 of us there and if we misbehaved a thin twig across the back of the leg put us right! I stayed there until I timed out on my 18th birthday.

I have looked through my address book and my aunt and uncle have had several spells of living where I used to live. The last time I was in touch, two Christmases ago they were living there.

I will send off for a copy of the two wills and see what happens. I have also sent a letter to my aunt and uncle.

Resolution Thu 30-Dec-10 13:12:30

prh is spot on. You are far too late to apply out of time under the inheritance act - 12 months is usually too late, let alone 23 years. the only thing you can do is see whether probate was granted and if so whether the estate was administered in accordance with the will. If it wasn't properly administered then you have a personal claim against the estate and the executors.

If no probate was granted then the estate hasn't been administered.

The grant of probate will tell you whether there was a will or whether it was an intestacy.

Good luck.

CarGirl Thu 30-Dec-10 18:39:12

The only thing that makes sense is that it was always your aunt/uncles house and your parents lived in it. Otherwise it appears that you have been shafted financially. I'm not sure I would have forewarned them that you were looking into this.

I am deeply saddened that the people who were supposed to care for you at the local authority did nothing, not even explain to you the financial situation etc angry.

If the house was your parents then at least it still exists for you to claim against confused

zeebrugge Thu 30-Dec-10 20:21:55

I am not expecting a house but somehow I would like to have some more photos of my Mum and Dad. I only have 2 because when I went back to the house for the final time after their funeral I was told by Aunty and the social worker that almost everything I asked about "isn't yours to take".

16 years was condensed down to 1 suitcase and two boxes.

Hassled Thu 30-Dec-10 20:36:36

I applied to see a copy of my father's will and the response was pretty quick - certainly within a couple of weeks - so hopefully you won't have to wait too long. It will all hinge on whether there was a will that specifically excluded you, whether there was a will that named you as a beneficiary or whether there was no will (in which case you as adopted child would be the beneficiary, above aunt/uncle).

It sounds like you've really really been through the mill, but you sound astonishingly together - your parents would be very proud of you indeed.

CarGirl Thu 30-Dec-10 20:37:55

Okay I am really outraged now!

I'm sure in reality it was all yours angry as a dependent child whether you were in the will or not.

Resolution Fri 31-Dec-10 01:57:05

No it isn't car girl. It all depends on the will, if there was one. We still have in law the principle that we can leave our estate to whoever we wish, and any challenges to that have to be made promptly. There is no entitlement beyond the Inheritance (Provision for family and dependants) Act

CarGirl Fri 31-Dec-10 07:31:21

Everything I have read says that as a child she had the right to contest any will if no provision was made for her financially until she was 18 - is that not correct??? If she had contested then she would have received some provision - yes??

It was her social workers duty to exercise that contesting on her behalf.

It wouldn't surprise me if their was a will that was made prior to her adoption. What kind of adult doesn't allow a child a significant amount of personal items such as photos of their parents and childhood when they've just lost them without warning in a tragic accident?

zeebrugge Fri 31-Dec-10 07:55:40

I don't see why I was not allowed to take some wedding photos of my dead parents sad

They must have belonged to somebody so why not me. I suppose when I took the emergency money out of the bathroom cabinet I was being a thief? Well I did anyway. That was all the money I had.

Anyway. I have had a bright idea. The headed notepaper for the solicitor who did the adoption work is in the file. I have looked up the very distinctive name and they seem to be in the same street, just 2 doors away. Perhaps they did the wills as well? Perhaps they have a copy?

I was 16, in a foster home. How was I to know about legal things like wills?

CarGirl Fri 31-Dec-10 07:59:12

Exactly Zeebrugge social services were acting in loco parentis for you and they should have looked into it and contested on your behalf, hence why I am angry.

Do you think your Aunt and Uncle had an issue with you "only" being adopted? I'm assuming that you were getting on okay with your parents at the time and weren't some wild drug taking child in which I could perhaps see in part their cruel logic?

zeebrugge Fri 31-Dec-10 08:09:44

I expect so. I am being silly and crying now and I have jobs to do. I might post a bit later.

CarGirl Fri 31-Dec-10 08:12:27

It is very hurtful for people to undermine your "rights & acknowledgement" as their daughter. They were your parents, they chose you and I'm sure they had dreams of you going to uni & marrying (and paying for it!) and being part of your life forever.

Big hug x

prh47bridge Fri 31-Dec-10 09:29:20

Even if the solicitor who did the adoption has wills for your parents they may not be their final wills. Your best bet for getting the wills is the Probate Registry. That will tell you what was in the wills used by the executors.

zeebrugge Fri 31-Dec-10 10:50:58

I have spoken to the firm on the phone. The man had known my Mum and Dad and had played golf with my Dad many times. Apparently my Dad was a "sound man, sound indeed."

I wrote down what he said "I indeed had the honour to act for your deceased parents in this matter." and later on "While I cannot bring the specifics of the case to mind I will retrieve the files from the archives with due urgency." It made me smile a bit.

I am seeing his on Tuesday morning.

nymphadora Fri 31-Dec-10 11:26:43

Can't add anything useful for you but the SW should have acted on your behalf

CarGirl Fri 31-Dec-10 14:12:20

Solicitor sounds an entertaining man, I hope he is able to get back to you soon. I hope whatever the outcome you have peace over the situation.

I am so cross on your behalf that you were denied photos and stuff like it's just a nonsense they could have been copied for goodness sake.

legaleagle2 Fri 31-Dec-10 14:49:00


In the 1980’s it would not have been legal for a child to be left destitute or homeless by intention or oversight when both parents are killed.

It was and still is quite usual to include a "disaster clause" in a will where some nominated person takes on the responsbility of bringing up the child to the age of 18 sometimes in exchange for money, sometimes not. It looks as if there was no such clause here. Readers might care to act on this today.

CarGirl Fri 31-Dec-10 15:00:08

It's certainly made me think about returning our will forms - have had them for 2 months! Fortunately neither families are money grabbing and have already asked guardians and executor if they are still happy to act for us.

legaleagle2 Fri 31-Dec-10 15:04:02


I agree that the local authority should have protected the OP’s financial interests. It might be that the local authority felt they had discharged their duty, either because that was really the case or because they were misled. If there is blame to be distributed they will certainly claim the later I am afraid to say.

There seem to be some points of substance not picked up elsewhere. The second foster home for example was, I believe, acting illegally in demanding money from the OP and might well have been in breach of LA guidelines in using corporal punishment. I am also intrigued by the role of the aunt and uncle who prima facie appear to have appropriated a major part of the estate. There are any number of intriging possibilities here and I wish the OP well.

CarGirl Fri 31-Dec-10 15:10:11

Both her aunt and social worker were then when she asked for items and told they were not hers to take........

I am really horrified that in the 1980's someone could treat a orphaned child that way.

Once you've looked at the will etc it may be worth seeing some solicitors for advice on a fixed fee basis to see if you can take it further, I wonder if any would take it on a "no win no fee" basis confused

troylawyer Fri 31-Dec-10 16:25:15

I contributed to this discussion earlier on and although I am a solicitor, I do not practice in the probate field and defer to the comments of others about that. However, one action that may be open to you is a claim for negligence against the local authority. Although you probably were a child in care prior to your adoption, this would have ceased once the adoption order was made and the local authority would cease to be involved at that point. Upon the death of your parents the normal course would be for family members to step in to care for you, often set out in the parents' will if there was one, but as it appears that your aunt and uncle did not accept the legal effect of your adoption, it appears that they abandoned you, which meant that the local authority had to step in again and placed you with foster carers.
The Children Act did not come into force until 1991 so this would have fallen under the old law and in a case such as this, I would have expected a local authority to have made you a Ward of Court to place you in the custody of the Court. The Court would then have been involved in dealing with every aspect of your upbringing and would have been keen to ensure that you received the inheritance to which you are clearly entitled, especially after such a major tragedy. I can only assume that the local authority failed in its duty to ensure that you were properly legally protected and that you therefore have an action in negligence against them. It seems to me that part of this claim would include what you should have received by way of inheritance as well as a claim for placing you with violent and unpleasant foster carers. So if all else fails, I would suggest you see a solicitor who specialises in negligence claims arising out of the care system.

prh47bridge Fri 31-Dec-10 16:44:22

The more I think about this the more worried I become. I think there is more than your parents' estate to worry about here.

I presume compensation was paid to the relatives of those who died in the Zeebrugge disaster. I haven't been able to find any details of the compensation payments online but I would have thought you should have received something. Who received compensation for the death of your parents?

Then there is the matter of any life insurances your parents had, including pensions that paid out on death. Such policies are often written in trust to avoid inheritance tax liabilities. That means the insurers decide who will receive the money, although they will usually follow the wishes of the insured. Your parents would probably have named each other as beneficiaries. In the circumstances I would have expected that most, if not all, of any payout would have gone to you, although it may have been put into trust for you to receive when you were 18. Were there any life insurances or pensions? If so, what has happened to that money?

It may be difficult to find all the details and, after all this time, you may never manage to get all you were entitled to but I hope that you manage to get some justice.

CarGirl Fri 31-Dec-10 17:18:16

prh you are so right shock

zeebrugge Fri 31-Dec-10 17:27:42

I was unhappy at my second foster parents and once I got into real trouble with them. I was supposed to give them half of my wages from my part time job but when I did some overtime around Christmas I didn’t tell Mrs McNulty. When she found out she hit me three times with a tawse (she was Scottish) on each hand, as hard as she could and said she would write to Social Services about how dishonest I was.

I do remember sitting in my bedroom nursing my sore hands thinking that less than a year ago I had had a Mum and Dad and lived in a nice house with a room of my own and how little I had left. Pam who shared with me was a good mate to me later on.

legaleagle2 Fri 31-Dec-10 17:56:32

I too am very unhappy about what I am reading. In my experience Local Authority staff are fairly effective in cases like this and this makes me suspect that they were unaware of the situation. It occurs to me that perhaps the aunt and uncle initially agreed to accept responsibility for the child but later changed their mind. Perhaps the LA knew of their first decision but not their second?

The status of the second foster home is indeed curious. It is hard to imagine that the LA knew the OP was in one of their homes when she was also recorded as being out of the system, living with her aunt and uncle. Thus I suspect that this was some unofficial arrangement but at whose behest? The proverbial finger of suspcion must surely point at the aunt and uncle?

I am a Scot myself and 6 "as hard as she could" blows with a tawse is a fearful punishment! I think that this too reinforces the idea that this second foster home was unofficial.

Finally, at least for today, how and why did the aunt and uncle subsequently come to be living in the OP's family home. And without the OP?

Even more finally can I say to the OP. There are many legal folk out there who would chase this case to the "hot end of hell". It is very, very, very rare for a case to "get at me" emotionally but this one has. There but by the grace of God go I or my children.

CarGirl Fri 31-Dec-10 18:03:14

legaleagle2 glad it's not just me who feels like that.

Zeebrugge you will probably need some emotional support through this, I cannot imagine how much it hurts to have been treated so badly by your relatives.

Northernlebkuchen Fri 31-Dec-10 18:09:46

It sounds to me like the second home was unofficial and arnged by the aunt. Hope you get on well with the solicitor on Tuesday - this all sounds very, very fishy. There is no way a dependant child should be left with nothing angry

nymphadora Fri 31-Dec-10 18:33:16

Did you know the SW? Just wondering if they were a SW. Or if SS thought Aunt was looking after you & she arranged the FC?

Hope you get some answers

legaleagle2 Sat 01-Jan-11 10:28:46

I am hoping for some collective wisdom on this case which is somewhat praying on my mind despite the New Year celebrations. I hope my professional colleagues here agree that dis-entangling all these matters is going to be something of a Gordian Knot.

However it does occur to me that there could be grounds for a complaint to the police? Obviously this depends on what a detailed examination of the available documentation reveals and I am not over optimistic about either the quality or quantity of the material the OP might be able to gain access to. But I digress. Obtaining money/property by decception comes to mind. The CPS might also take a dim view if, for example, the aunt and uncle accepted money, perhaps via a conditional bequest, to raise the OP and then promptly "dumped" her into an abusive "foster home".

I have been pondering on this second foster home. Having the OP moved to a town some distance away would greatly reduce the chance of the OP discovering that her Aunt and Uncle had moved into her family home. Even a teenager, no offence intended to the OP, would think this was very strange and might well complain. At a distance the child would be far less likely to find out exactly what was going on and they would be most unlikely to visit without an invitation. An invitation that I assume OP was never forthcoming?

Why did the “evil” aunt and uncle not sell the house to eliminate this problem? Because they couldn’t. They were not the legal owners and would not have had any of the required documentation. I wonder if we will find that they sold their own house, quite legally, and then just moved into the OP’s house?

nymphadora Sat 01-Jan-11 10:42:25

Was there checks on children in care back then? Social worker visits/ independent reviewing officers etc? These people should have queried the finances & ensure the Op had memories in the form of photos etc.

zeebrugge Sat 01-Jan-11 14:10:25

I was waiting until I had more to say.

The fist short term home was OK. I was encouraged to talk about my Mum and Dad and my feelings. I still went to my old school and had my friends. I knew it was only short term but I thought it was funny that Aunt and Uncle never visited.

The second home as I said was horrid. I had to cry in secret and I got hit for all sorts of silly things. I a bit think that taking half my wages was like stealing from me. Aunt and Uncle didn't visit but the lady who ran it did know them I'm sure.

prh47bridge Sat 01-Jan-11 14:27:55

I agree with legaleagle2 that disentangling this is going to be difficult. It may not be possible after all this time to determine exactly what the OP should have got. If cash has been spent or assets sold and the proceeds spent it may not be possible for the OP to recover all that has been lost.

As I see it there are a number of possibilities. It is possible that the parents did not own their home, so aunt and uncle have simply taken over the lease. Perhaps more likely, it is possible that aunt and uncle paid a fair price to buy the house from the estate but after paying off the mortgage and other debts there was nothing left to distribute. However, it is also possible that the OP has been deprived of her rightful inheritance. I would agree that this is the most likely scenario and the information we have so far points towards possible culprits, but there is some digging to do before anything can be said for certain.

Regarding the estate, has probate been granted? If probate has not been granted the Inheritance Act comes back into play as the clock hasn't started ticking yet. If probate has been granted, has the estate been administered correctly? Have all the assets been identified and have they been distributed in accordance with the wills? Depending on the answers to these questions there may be grounds for action against the executors. There may also be grounds for a complaint to the police.

Then there is the question of compensation paid for the Zeebrugge disaster. I would imagine that P&O would be able to confirm whether the OP's parents are listed among those lost at Zeebrugge, the terms of compensation paid and hence how much the OP should have received. I would hope they would also be able to confirm whether or not compensation was paid with respect to the OP's parents, although they probably won't say who received any payout on data protection grounds. If compensation hasn't been paid will they pay out now? If it has been paid there may again be grounds for a complaint to the police.

It may not be possible after all this time to track down all the life insurances and pensions the parents had in force at the time of death. Did they pay out? If so, who received the cash? If they haven't paid out but have simply been allowed to lapse it may be very difficult to determine how much should have been received.

Then there is the matter of the OP's treatment at the second foster home and possible negligence by the LA.

I just hope there is some justice for the OP at the end of all this.

ANTagony Sat 01-Jan-11 14:35:32

Have you heard of Disaster Action?

They were set up in the early 90's and based on Wiki's explanation one of the founding members lost family on the Herald of Free Enterprise. They appear to have support groups and offer advise to survivors and bereaved.

I hope that 2011 is a year that has some answers for you and wish you luck in finding them.

legaleagle2 Sat 01-Jan-11 16:07:52

prh47bridge makes some good points and I would have been quite content to go along with the "it is possible that aunt and uncle paid a fair price to buy the house from the estate but after paying off the mortgage and other debts there was nothing left to distribute" scenario had the OP been living with Aunt and Uncle.

But she wasn't - the OP was placed in a foster home about which I have the most serious reservations! If the Aunt and Uncle purchased the family house why did they choose to not have the OP with them?

On a personal note. I am outraged by the physical punishment the OP suffered. I have checked with my brother and 6 "as hard as she could" blows with a tawse is far in excess of reasonable.

troylawyer Sat 01-Jan-11 21:27:46

It does seem that we have a collective body of professional lawyers contributing to this debate which is very good news and I hope will stand you in good stead as you tackle this injustice!
Zeebrugge, you do of course have the appointment with the family's solicitor on Tuesday but with all due respect to him, I would urge a degree of caution when you go to see him because he may well have been involved in what, at best, appears to be a major cock up and at worst, something that has turned out to be bordering on the criminal. I am not suggesting that the solicitor is, or has been, dishonest but he may be very defensive if there has been a serious error made in all of this. So you need to be clear about the questions that you require answers to and also clear that you understand all the issues. I do not mean that to sound patronsing but this is a very complicated situation and as others have said, requires a lot of careful thought to unravel it.
It seems to me that the first enquiries that can and should be made are (1) with the probate registry as has already been said and; (2) at the land registry to see who is the legal owner of the property in question. Both these enquiries are quick and cheap and very revealing. If the house is registered in the aunt and uncles names, you will then know when that happened. Playing devil's advocate for a moment, it is possible that the house belonged to them all along and that your parents were simply renting from them and if that were the case, it is probably perfectly reasonable for them to move into their own house. Cynically, I think that this is a very unlikely scenario but the point is that the land registry will answer that question. If the house is still in your parents' names, it is unlikely that probate has taken place and part of your inheritance is sitting there in bricks and mortar. I should add that I completely agree with others' comments about compensation for the disaster itself, life insurance and pensions all forming part of the estate of which you appear to be the principal beneficiary.
Last but not least, I can only echo what all the other contributors have said. This is a truly tragic story, made so much worse by the cruelty and brutality of others. I hope that you have the strength to fight for what you are entitled to and that you acheive the justice that you deserve. All the best,

Amapoleon Sat 01-Jan-11 21:42:34

I can't offer you any advice but wish you strength.

legaleagle2 Sun 02-Jan-11 08:22:54

I am both pleased and relieved that troylawyer shares my concerns about the family solicitor. I had hesitated from further burdening the OP but on reflection the caveats identified did need to be aired. I greatly fear if the family solicitor discovers serious error in his own performance or, worse still, was actively involved in this sorry business then the meeting on Tuesday might not be particularly productive. I do wonder if this will turn out to have been a reasonably substantial estate that has been systematically plundered?

That said it is hard to see how the various asset classes (house, compensation, pension to name but three) could have been diverted to a third party unless we can add forgery to the list? Surely the OP would have been required to sign all kinds of documents and the signature witnessed?

Any comments?

prh47bridge Sun 02-Jan-11 10:24:34

Although I am trying to be fair minded and not point fingers, I agree that everything we have heard points to the OP having been deprived of her rightful inheritance and suggests possible culprits.

I am concerned that the OP has already told us that, while she was in short term foster care, the social worker and another man came to the school and the Head Master witnessed her signature on some papers. We don't know the nature of those papers. Was she signing away her inheritance? She was still a minor at that stage.

I am relieved that the family solicitor volunteered the fact that he acted for the parents in drawing up their wills. I hope that means he was not actively involved in whatever has transpired. However, as troylawyer and legaleagle have said, he may be less than totally forthcoming if he has made mistakes which have contributed to the situation.

We really need to know if probate has been granted and, if so, whether the wills held by the probate registry match those held by the family solicitor.

troylawyer Sun 02-Jan-11 10:38:55

I am about to go out for the day so of necessity, this will be short.

It seems to me that a 16 year old is not competent to give a valid receipt and therefore not competent to sign away an inheritance. Had the local authority acted properly at the time of this disaster and made you a Ward of Court when they should have done, the Court would have been required to sign documents probably through the Official Solicitor (if the cobwebs that I am trying to dust off from that part of my brain are functioning correctly!) Otherwise, it would have been a Court of Protection matter I would have thought (or whatever the equivalent was in those days). Either way, it seems to me that if you did sign something while still at school, this is unlikely to be valid in my view and surely would be open to challenge.

legaleagle2 Sun 02-Jan-11 16:12:09

I agree with both the previous posters.

I do have a theory which, if I may, I would like to bounce of the group.

What if the aunt and uncle became legal Guardians of the OP (perhaps these were the papers that were signed?) AND were also Trustees and Executors of the Will? Would this enable them to loot the estate in the way we all suspect? I feel certain that in the past I saw an Will along these lines and that I argued cogently but unsuccessfully to my client that it was a bad idea.

I wish I could rid myself of the growing suspicion that there was a third person involved, probably with legal training!

bedubabe Sun 02-Jan-11 18:25:23

Whilst this does all sound very suspicious (and the OP certainly needs to get to the bottom of things), I just want to highlight three points

1) 1987 was not a good year financially and it is quite possible that most/all of the value of any assets were wiped out during the course of the year. Would any compensation have gone to the OP or the estate?
2) OP mentions that her aunt and uncle were living overseas (or at least talks about them coming back from Denver later). That's a very valid reason for her having been placed in foster care initially.
3) The behaviour of the aunt and social worker after the funeral sounds very, very odd and I think (discounting the idea of an evil aunt on the level of cruella de'vile) suggests that there was in fact no money left in the estate ie everything was going to have to be sold.

OP def needs/deserves an explanation regardless.

CarGirl Sun 02-Jan-11 18:32:13

Bedubabe the house was never sold the aunt and uncle now live in it........but photos, they wouldn't even let her take photos - they are worthless in terms of estate value.

prh47bridge Sun 02-Jan-11 23:10:52

We can't be 100% certain about the house but the OP tells us that the aunt and uncle have lived there several times over the years, most recently a couple of years ago. However, we don't know that the house has never been sold. It is possible the aunt and uncle bought it from the estate.

I would have expected compensation to go direct to the OP rather than forming part of the estate so that it could not be subject to Inheritance Tax nor could it be used to pay off debts. Similarly life insurances are generally written in trust so that they don't form part of the deceased's estate for the same reasons.

bedubabe Mon 03-Jan-11 05:07:21

CarGirl - OP never said she wasn't allowed to take photos just that she was told everything she tried to take wasn't hers. I got the impression she didn't try to take more than two she was given - of course she would have been in a considerable state of shock.

It's the apparent extreme cruelty that makes me think this might not be as bad as people are making out - if you were planning a mass fraud you would have fobbed OP off with something minor, surely! I'd be suspicious aunt and uncle got the house in exchange for looking after OP though which they clearly didn't do properly.

prh - if compensation was supposed to go to the OP direct (and I can't see who else should have benefited!) then agreed my first point doesn't apply. There could easily have been no life insurance though.

It may all be as bad as everyone thinks, I just wanted to urge some caution as there could be a reasonable explanation.

legaleagle2 Mon 03-Jan-11 11:51:55

I hope that the OP will post today or at a minimum read the material that others here have provided.

Bedubabe - The OP wrote "I don't see why I was not allowed to take some wedding photos of my dead parents. They must have belonged to somebody so why not me. I suppose when I took the emergency money out of the bathroom cabinet I was being a thief? Well I did anyway. That was all the money I had." I think the few personal items she has were obtained despite the attention of Aunt and SW.

I do agree about your suggestion that the Aunt and Uncle probably got the house in exchange for looking after the OP - then quickly dumped her?

I think we all hope that there is a reasonable explanation.

bedubabe Mon 03-Jan-11 17:59:34

Legalegal - maybe my reading of her post before that is wrong. I just got the impression she gave up asking. OP can can confirm when/if she comes back.

prh47bridge Mon 03-Jan-11 21:54:32

The OP certainly seems to have been mistreated while in long term foster care. It is possible that everything else is explained by a mixture of factors such as the parents being heavily in debt, the aunt and uncle being unwilling to look after the OP and so on. It could be that the compensation and life insurances (if any) went unclaimed as everyone thought it was someone else's responsibility. Or it could be that they were incorrectly applied to meet the debts of the estate.

Hopefully the OP will tell us what she finds when she sees her parents' wills tomorrow. That will move us a bit further forward. But we really need to know whether probate has been granted and, if it has, the value of the estate for probate and whether the deposited wills (if any) match those held by the family solicitor.

zeebrugge Tue 04-Jan-11 09:35:35

The solicitor just phoned me to confirm the appointment. When he heard that my trip would be 2 buses and a longish walk he said he would drive over to see me. He is coming at 11 and I am feeling a bit scared and weepy. I will try to post later.

I read all the things you have posted and thank you for trying to help me.

legaleagle2 Tue 04-Jan-11 09:50:22

I am back in the office with the first client due at 1015hrs so must be brief.

OP if at all possible have somebody else with you to help take notes and remember what is said. If the solicitor says something you do not understand ask him to explain.

I am sure that everybody here wishes you well.

zeebrugge Tue 04-Jan-11 13:47:52

I had misunderstood what was to happen. I was picked from my home in a car (a young lad), driven to the solicitors office and taken back at the end.

I have tried to use his exact words solicitor used.

My Mum and Dads wills were looked at every two years - the last time in December 1986. Three months before they drowned. He said while of course it is possible that your father instructed another firm to create a subsequent will I think this is unlikely

If one parent died Nil rate band of Inheritance Tax was to go to you. The remainder to surviving partner. As both died together you should have got everything

There was no mortgage on the house – paid off a couple of years earlier.

Your Aunt and Uncle were to act as your guardian “to reflect this great kindness” £10000 from estate. They were executor and trustees

He said the paperwork was carried out by a former colleague but because of the circumstances and because I knew your father I did exercise some strategic oversight over the affair. As you can see the file was annotated at the time that the total tax liability seems much smaller than I would have expected. I have been unable to trace any additional material. This surprises me because I would have expected to find material relating to the granting of probate.

He asked me to wait outside while he phoned aunt and uncle. I was given a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. He is going to see them tomorrow to get some photos of my Mum and Dad and make some gentle enquiries about other matters.. Under the circumstances his work would be pro bone?.

I really do think he is on my side.

crystalglasses Tue 04-Jan-11 14:15:53

It really sounds as if you've suffered an injustice and it needs to put right so that you can move on with your life. I do hope things are sorted out and you get a proper explanation of what happened and why.

eviscerateyourmemory Tue 04-Jan-11 14:25:25

It sounds like you need someone assertive on your side.
I hope that you can get to the bottom of this soon.

NemoTheRedNosedFish Tue 04-Jan-11 14:28:04

Pro bono means he will not expect to be paid a fee, OP. My heart is with you, I hope that you can get this painful business sorted out.

Very angry on your behalf at 'aunt' and 'uncle.'

prh47bridge Tue 04-Jan-11 15:12:05

The phrase is "pro bono" and menas he is acting for you free of charge. For what it is worth, it is from the Latin phrase "pro bono publico", which means "for the public good".

If the comment about tax refers to inheritance tax that may indicate that there were some debts but not enough to wipe out the estate completely. It may also indicate that the declared value of the estates was lower than their true value, or simply that the family solicitor overestimated the tax liability.

I am afraid I can no longer see any possible innocent explanation. Your aunt and uncle seem to have been living in a house that probably belongs to you. They seem to have fulfilled their role as your guardians by dumping you with abusive foster parents. As executors and trustees they have, at the very least, failed to distribute the estate and may have used their position to plunder the estate. At the moment I cannot think of any other explanation.

And there is still the question of compensation from P&O and any life insurances and pensions. I believe there was also a public appeal to raise money for the families of those who died, so you should have been entitled to a payout from that as well. As your guardians your aunt and uncle should have been making sure you received these payouts. Did they not bother claiming any of this or did they claim it all and spend it? To put it another way, are they guilty of negligence or fraud?

I would be thinking seriously about calling in the police. I would hope that the family solicitor is VERY careful when he talks to your aunt and uncle tomorrow. The last thing you want is them grabbing everything they can and heading back to Denver.

prh47bridge Tue 04-Jan-11 15:12:24

"means", not "menas"!

DaisySteiner Tue 04-Jan-11 16:27:53

God, I hope you can get this sorted out Zeebrugge. Following on from what prh has said I wonder whether it's worth asking the solicitor to refrain from speaking to them before you've had a chance to speak to the police? Surely he should be able to find out about probate etc without speaking to them as it should be a matter of public record?

Northernlebkuchen Tue 04-Jan-11 17:23:26

Solicitor sound slovely - where is he seeing them? In the house you lived in with your parents?

troylawyer Tue 04-Jan-11 17:45:16

It sounds as though the solicitor is getting himself into some potentially deep water here so no wonder he is offering free advice at this stage, not to mention a chauffeur to and from the office!

It is normal practice for a professionally drafted will to preserve the solicitors role in the administration of the estate, especially if the testators were sufficiently diligent to update their wills every 2 years, so I would have expected them to have been drafted so that he was instructed in the probate. Given that the deaths would have attracted huge publicity in their local area, it seems inconceivable that he would not have expected to be involved in the probate and surely he would have been aware of the deaths. If he was not instructed, he should have expected to be contacted about the original wills by someone and it is odd that he did not attempt to find out what was going on at the time.

As the solicitor involved in drafting the wills, it seems to me that he should be aware that something has gone seriously wrong here and I am not at all sure that he should be contacting the aunt and uncle at this stage other than perhaps by way of formal correspondence. He is certainly not in a position to advise them as there is a huge conflict of interest that must be obvious to him (I would hope).

The proper course for him to take is to decide who he is acting for, and in reality if I was him I would limit my involvement to that of the solicitor who drafted the wills. I do not think that he should be seeking to advise the OP, pro bono or otherwise, although there is no reason why he cannot conduct the searches at the probate registry and the land registry that are obvious steps to take before any contact is made with the aunt and uncle. His proper course would then be to advise the OP to instruct another firm and possibly contact his own insurers if he thinks that there is a potential claim against himself in all this mess.

legaleagle2 Tue 04-Jan-11 19:10:24

I agree, as ever it seems, with troylawyer.

I am far from certain, despite straining every fibre to remain objective, that the family lawyer has a clear conscience. That said it almost implict in what the OP said today that while the family solicitor did not do the work himself that it was indeed done by another member of the same practice.

The full implications of that are not clear to me as yet. If the work was done by another fully qualified member of the firm then liability, if liability exists, perhaps lies there.

BTW Would not the tax liability seem smaller than expected if the aunt and uncle had, by accident or design, misreported the value of the estate to the firm?

I am assuming that the family solicitor is now acting for the OP? Or have I misunderstood something? I think this is probably a bad idea.

prh47bridge Tue 04-Jan-11 20:25:30

I agree with both troylawyer and legaleagle that having the family solicitor acting for the OP, even on a pro bono basis, is a bad move. I also think it could be a serious mistake for him to visit aunt and uncle tomorrow. I think the OP should contact the family solicitor first thing in the morning, politely decline his offer and find someone else to represent her.

It looks to me like the family solicitor's firm was involved in administration of the estate in some way. That is the only way I can make sense of the paragraph beginning "He said the paperwork was carried out by a former colleague..." in the OP's last post. Why is there no material relating to the granting of probate? Has probate not been granted? The tax liability has been calculated and, presumably, paid so getting a grant of probate should have been the next step.

As per my previous post, I agree that misreporting the value of the estate is one possible reason for the tax liability seeming lower than expected. At the time of the parents' death the inheritance tax threshold was £71,000. Depending on how you calculate it, that is between £150,000 and £230,000 in today's terms. As both parents died together and some tax was due that means we are looking at a fairly substantial estate.

prh47bridge Tue 04-Jan-11 20:33:29

Just to add that I also agree with troylawyer that the next step should be searches at the Probate and Land Registries. You need to know if probate has been granted. If it has you need to know the value of the estate for probate and whether the wills that were filed match those held by the family solicitor. If the family solicitor hasn't already given you copies of the wills make sure you get them from him as a matter of urgency - you don't want to find that they have been lost.

The Land Registry will tell you if the house still belongs to the estate or if it has been transferred to your aunt and uncle.

Those answers will give a strong indication as to what has actually happened.

CarGirl Tue 04-Jan-11 21:06:34

Zeebrugge I am only just on line, I actually feel physically sick on your behalf.

MrsSchadenfreude Tue 04-Jan-11 21:14:47

I am so angry on your behalf at your aunt and uncle, and would want both of them strung up by the short and curlies and hung out to dry physically and financially. I am not a lawyer, but agree with others that the family solicitor should not approach aunt and uncle yet (if at all). First should be Probate and Land Registry, then you should decide where to go from there. It sounds to me, even if this solicitor is lovely, that he is going for damage limitation and to stop you suing his practice. Unless your aunt and uncle have lied to him about the ownership of the house, but it all seems a bit odd to me, particularly as he was quite close to your Dad.

Please keep us updated. I think you've had some good advice on here.

Jux Tue 04-Jan-11 21:31:59

He probably plays golf with them and perhaps wants to have a quiet word to ensure there was no funny business, old chums, let's deal with this unofficially saves a lot of unpleasantness etc. He might actually trust them!

Zeebrugge, I posted support on your other thread but send you more now. An appalling situation for you. And I still hope your Aunt and Uncle get what they deserve, but even more painfully.

The trouble is that the solicitor has already been in touch with them so they know something's up.

Can Zeebrugge ask for someone else to keep the appointment or an independent witness or something?

CarGirl Tue 04-Jan-11 21:34:59

zeebrugge can take anyone she wants with her surely?

Jux Tue 04-Jan-11 21:49:33

Yeah but she isn't the one with an appointment with her A & U, the solicitor is.

CarGirl Tue 04-Jan-11 21:53:27

Ah misunderstood.

I'd be going to an independent solicitor and the police tbh.


and <<vomit>> emoticon

hester Tue 04-Jan-11 22:08:10

zeebrugge, I'm sorry I have no useful advice to give, but just wanted to add my support. As an adoptive mother, the thought of something like this happening to my daughters makes me feel physically ill. Very best of luck to you xx

NonnoMum Tue 04-Jan-11 22:24:24

Zeebrugge. I have just come to this thread.

I'm completely intrigued and want the best possible outcome for you. I don't have legal training but I do remember the time of Zeebrugge very clearly ( I think we are about the same age), I also have an adoptive sibling who is 100% part of the family and will etc, and we also have solicitors in the family.
Suppose what I'm saying is I'm on your side! You go girl, stand up for yourself! And stand up for the memory of your parents! You are like a MN Harriet Potter and we are Hermione and Ron and routing for you!

shelscrape Tue 04-Jan-11 22:37:04

Ummm just a thought here. It looks like Zeebrugge's parents had no mortgage? So, really we need to establish who legally owns the house now. I would suggest you do a land registry search to check who owns the house now.... might be enlightening. Anyone can do a land registry search, they have a website which gives more detail.

This is all very odd and intriging - I am a lawyer, but probate is not my speciality. I really hope everything works out OK for you OP.

NonnoMum Tue 04-Jan-11 22:40:06

And please write everything down. And contact a publishers or a Woman's magazine.

minipen Wed 05-Jan-11 11:16:02

I was still thinking of this late last night, I too wondered if the Aunt & Uncle are friends of the solicitor, my experience of solictors is they put EVERYTHING in writing, I cannot email our solicitor they want everything personally signed.

I do think you need an independent person in this to watch out for you, it's so emotional to read about I can only begin to imagine what it is like for you living it.

zeebrugge Wed 05-Jan-11 11:34:11

I have some good news and some bad news. There is a box of photos of my Mum and Dad waiting for me at the solicitors office and I now know that they did leave me something in their will but nobody ever bothered to tell me!!!

The bad news is that the family solicitor cannot help me any more because of a conflict of something.

What happened was that a 4PM yesterday Aunt and Uncle phoned my solicitor to say they would not see him. At 415PM another solicitor phoned my solicitor to say that Aunt and Uncle had asked him to represent them and that a box of photos and a letter would arrive before the close of business. At 455 the box and a letter arrived addressed to me and my solicitor arrived. My aunt and uncle have said all sorts in the letter.

They decided it would be in my best interests to have a fresh start not in the home with so many sad memories. This was arranged with an experienced foster carer .

All the money from the Mum and Dad was put into a bank account accesable to me and them. They have the signed paper from 1987 to prove it.

This money was used to maintain the house which they do not dispute belongs to me.

They say I was paid a weekly allowance into another account under my sole control. The allowance was uprated each year to allow for inflation.

Since they were not living in the house through choice but to maintain it for me they have paid themselves an allowance as well.

They have no idea why I have made no attempt to live in the house or to keep in regular contact with them.

PLEASE BELIEVE ME – I didn’t know anything about the house being mine. Nobody told me. I am sure they didn’t. I have never had any allowance from them either. Nothing ever. Why should they get paid from my Mum and Dads money to live in my house when I wasn’t there. For years and years.

I am going off to catch the bus so I can see the photos. I am really excited about that. I only have 2 at the moment.

DaisySteiner Wed 05-Jan-11 11:38:16

I'm really pleased for you about the photos. You must be absolutely thrilled. I think you now need to find yourself another solicitor who can help you determine exactly what is rightfully yours and also whether the police should be involved.

noddyholder Wed 05-Jan-11 11:44:33

Wow that does sound like progress.I remember the zeebrugge so clearly some of dp's neighbours died in it too it was so sad.I hope you get the phots and the house you deserve it all

bran Wed 05-Jan-11 11:54:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

prh47bridge Wed 05-Jan-11 12:35:06

I am not surprised that the solicitor has decided there is a conflict of interest. It is possible you have cause for action against them.

I am also not surprised that your aunt and uncle have engaged their own solicitors. They have a lot to answer for. The fact that they have done this suggests to me that they know they are in the wrong. The explanations they have given you sound like a load of self justifying cr*p.

I would have expected that your aunt and uncle's roles as trustees would have ended on your 18th or 21st birthday. At that point all the money and any other assets should have been handed over to you. Did the wills say something about the estate going into trust for you until your 18th birthday or similar?

I can see no justification for them paying themselves an allowance for living in your house. If anything they should be paying you rent.

I note that compensation from P&O, payouts from the public fund and insurance payouts are not mentioned. Did they claim these on your behalf? Or did they just not bother?

The money may all be sitting in bank accounts but it will be substantially devalued by inflation. I doubt sufficient interest will have been paid to cover those losses.

It seems to me that your aunt and uncle have, at the very least, failed to protect your interests and failed in their duty as executors and trustees. I would also question whether dumping you into foster care was adequate discharge of their duties as your guardians, for which they presumably paid themselves £10,000.

The LA may also have some liability as they would appear to have failed to adequately protect your interests. There may even be a case against the long term foster parents.

I hope the photos help but please don't stop. This is only the beginning. Find a solicitor who will pursue this to the ends of the earth for you. And keep us posted.

maryz Wed 05-Jan-11 12:42:58

What prh47bridge said.

Please don't faff around listening to what these solicitors say, or talking to your aunt and uncle. Go to a solicitors, tell them the whole story, and then let them deal with it (involving the police if necessary).

One extra point - did you ever get the weekly allowance?

They have stolen your money - don't let them get away with it.

This all seems extremely fishy to me. "They decided it would be in my best interests to have a fresh start not in the home with so many sad memories." how on earth could they decide that the house that you grew up in had many happy memories in, be deemed as holding bad memories, I don't mean to sound crass but they didn't pass away there. The sad memories are that they died "full stop" taking a child away from everything familiar at a time like this could only sadden the pain, Surely any one "caring" would know that.
zeebrugge my goes out to you it really does, I am so glad that you now have a box of memories, I am sure you will experience every emotion when you open that box smile
but I must agree you need to seek another solicitor and get to the bottom of tho whole sorry mess.

bedubabe Wed 05-Jan-11 13:15:25

OK I take everything I said back. I honestly can't believe it!

The fact that the family solicitor won't be advising you any longer is good news not bad news. He's involved in this (whether accidentally or not) and can't give objective advice.

Unless you actually have a letter from the family solicitor saying he's acting for A&O I'd assume he's not. Given the potential claim against his firm he should be staying out of this on both sides.

As everyone says, you need another solicitor. Don't do or say anything to anyone (including A&O and the family solicitor) until you've got independent legal advice. I don't know where you're based - is there a local law centre. If not, any local firm will have probate lawyers. There is someone out there who will persue this to the ends of the earth for you.

bedubabe Wed 05-Jan-11 13:16:56

Sorry just read your post again and realised it's another solicitor that's representing your A&O. The fact the family sol has said there's a conflict of interest means he knows there's a potential negligence claim against him coming up.

crystalglasses Wed 05-Jan-11 13:18:00

Surely there is a houseful of memories (ie the contents of the house and all your parents' personal effects) that is rightfully yours, not just a just a box full.

I really hope you are strong enough to pursue this. I'm sure your parents would have been horrified and you owe it to them as well yourself to make sure that you get at the truth and the relevant people are held to account for their actions and inactions. Get hold of a solicitor who specialises in these things; after all you won't have to worry about the cost now.

maryz Wed 05-Jan-11 13:21:45

I don't have legal knowledge, but the questions I would be asking are:

1. Was probate ever granted?

2. Whose name is the house in now?

3. Why didn't the solicitors in charge of the will inform you, as beneficiary?

4. What piece of paper did your aunt and uncle get you to sign - and if it was permission to spend your money, then is it legal considing the fact that you were under 18 at the time?

5. Were social services involved, and why didn't they represent your financial interests (I suspect they decided your aunt and uncle would look after you and left it to them).

You also need bank statements from the time the alleged bank accounts were started, the deeds of the house and copies of the wills asap.

I suspect you have a case against your aunt and uncle, the solicitors and social services, as well as a claim on the Zeebrugge disaster fund (and if it is too late for that claim, it is another thing you can sue your so-called guardians for - they should have got compensation for you).

NonnoMum Wed 05-Jan-11 13:24:21

I hope the box of photos and mementos is giving you some comfort. There is a lot for you to take in at the moment.

It looks like things are progressing here. It won't make up for the years of mistakes/neglect/ill-advice but looks likethings may be going your way.

Good luck

Keep in touch.

nymphadora Wed 05-Jan-11 13:34:12

Posted on the other thread too but I'm so angry for you. Please Persue SS too as they should have acted on your behalf & if they didn't you can make a fuss about that. I am v dubious about whether they were involved , I keep wondering whether it was an arrangement made by A&U.

Get another solicitor & stamp your feet, they can't get away with this on an emotional level never mind the financial element

minipen Wed 05-Jan-11 13:47:37

Please get someone to act for you! I am shocked your Aunt & Uncle are making out like they were forced to live there! Presumably they will have evidence of this allowance that was paid???

I am glad you will have more photos but I can't get over you have been robbed by your Auntie & Uncle who are now trying to put blame onto a 16 year old, truly shocking,

prh47bridge Wed 05-Jan-11 13:52:43

Coming back to this again, I am seriously angry now (yet again!) so I may go over the top here but it seems to me that your aunt and uncle may be liable for:

- any difference between the amount paid into the alleged joint account and the true value of the estate

- interest on the amounts in the bank accounts

- return of any money paid to them for acting as your guardians

- return of all the amounts they have paid themselves as an allowance over the last 23 years

- rent for living in your house for the last 23 years

- if they have paid household bills (gas, electricity, etc.) out of the joint account, return of that money

- if they failed to claim compensation, insurance payouts, etc. on your behalf, the difference between any amount that can now be claimed and the amount that could have been claimed at the time

- interest on all of the above

The family solicitor and the LA may be jointly liable for some of the above.

You still need to know if probate has been granted and the value of the estate for probate. You also need to know what the Land Registry has regarding your house.

As others have said, this may end up involving the police but your starting point is to get a good solicitor.

InaraSerra Wed 05-Jan-11 13:52:50

I've been reading this thread with disbelief, and am so sorry for your loss, and that your original tragedy has been compounded by the awful treatment you have since received.

There's been some great advice on here, and I would just like to re-iterate that you should engage another solicitor TODAY, and also that it sounds like you need to involve the police as soon as possible - but presume the new solicitor could advise on that.

Please keep us updated with progress, and all the best of luck.

CarGirl Wed 05-Jan-11 14:21:14

I would visit another solicitor pronto and in addition to sorting out everything else start evication procedings agains them angry

BranchingOut Wed 05-Jan-11 14:38:22

So horrified reading this story. I hope that the intervening years have brought you some love and blessings to make uk for this terrible loss.

This is all overwhelming, but you now need to mentally dig yourself in and be ready for a fight.

Remember, your aunt and uncle have shown themselves to be individuals who will take little care of an orphaned child. They have almost certainly defrauded the estate of their brother or sister. Do not trust them. Do not believe them. Take no assurances from them at all.

Also, they have the advantage of forethought. Years ago, they must have decided to do this and mentally prepared themselves for what might happen when they were caught out. They are probably already anticipating the moves that you might make.

So you need to find someone who is going to 'fight this to the hot end of hell', as someone said up the thread. Someone who is going to make sure that all parties get what they truly deserve.

BranchingOut Wed 05-Jan-11 14:38:39

up not uk

BranchingOut Wed 05-Jan-11 14:41:37

From a statement made by the secretary of state after the disaster:

I understand that P&O has announced today that it has set aside £250,000 to meet the immediate personal needs of those in distress following the tragedy. This fund will be handled by the Townsend Thoresen office in Dover. The company will also be advertising in the national press tomorrow with details of the central point for claims. I have its assurance that all claims will be dealt with as quickly as possible.

On the initiative of Dover district council, a Channel ferry disaster fund has been established to assist the victims and their relatives. This will not affect claims for compensation. The Government will contribute £1 million to the fund. Parliamentary approval to this payment will be sought in a supplementary Supply Estimate for the transport services and central administration vote. Pending that approval, the £1 million donation will be met by a repayable advance from the contingencies fund.

BranchingOut Wed 05-Jan-11 14:46:18

From another document about disaster funds:

The Channel Ferry Disaster Fund

It was therefore decided that initial
payments should be made quickly to all concerned, followed by further payments
to those in need. Almost £750,000 was paid out within six weeks of the disaster,
with some £1,100,000 paid out within ten weeks. Nearly £6 million was eventually
distributed within a year of the disaster.

RealityIsShaggingWithIntent Wed 05-Jan-11 14:47:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

legaleagle2 Wed 05-Jan-11 15:34:10

So to summarise. A 16 year old girl loses both her parents. Despite being paid a significant sum to look after their niece her aunt and uncle put her into a foster home where she is subjected to some moderate physical abuse and is also made to hand over half her wages. Meanwhile her aunt and uncle live rent free in the family home and, not content with that, they also pay themselves an allowance out of the estate.

Over the years I have met some nasty people. Indeed I have been to obliged to represent some in Court. For sheer calculated greed and nastiness this is probably the worst I can bring to mind.

legaleagle2 Wed 05-Jan-11 15:40:37

Do you know what makes me most cross? It is the fact that the OP went all these years thinking the parents didn't care about her and had left her nothing!

I am fuming, sorry!

legaleagle that is the bit that concerns me the most too. Imagine loosing both parents and then being treated like old rubbish, what other conculsion would a 16 year old come to apart from "they didn't care". You have no one to confirm that they did care, with. If one parent dies you get confirmation from the other that you are/were loved.
zeebrugge has gone through most of her adult life with these negative thoughts.
As another poster said I hope she has found love, happy and success since then to make up for the hurt.

maryz Wed 05-Jan-11 16:11:57

That is what hit home with me too - that and the fact that she is adopted sad. I wonder if she wasn't adopted would social services or other people have treated her differently. Because she certainly seemed to think that being adopted meant that she had no right to her parent's belongings. I just think that it is so sad, to live practically her whole life thinking she was in some way second best.

I'm sure there were many stories like this in the past - back in the 50s and 60s or earlier, where orphaned children (and their money) were taken by the nearest relative and made to earn their keep. But to think it could happen in the 1980 is frightening angry.

zeebrugge Wed 05-Jan-11 16:19:17

I have had a frightening day. I went to the solicitors to pick up the photos of my Mum and Dad and they were really funny with me. They gave me the box, told me the letter was inside and then it felt they were wanting me to leave. It was raining and I wanted to look at the pictures but didn’t want them to get wet. In the end I found a seat in a shopping centre. It was lovely to see different photos of Mum and Dad with me as a baby and as I grew up. The one that made me saddest was one taken just a few weeks before they got drowned.

I remembered what people had said about getting my own solicitor so I walked through the town until I found one that said they did family law. I explained to the lady on the desk, then again to a middle aged man, then again to this mans brother who does major trials in London. The new solicitor said did I want to go to the police station to make a complaint. When I said yes he phoned them and spoke to somebody he knew.

When we got there I had to explain everything again. Then it was all written down and I had to sign each page. All this took ages. I think the policeman was getting quite cross. Not with me but what had happened to me.

I was getting quite frightened by now because I know that solicitors cost a lot of money. But he said there would be a queue of people a mile long wanting to do this case pro bono. Anyway he then took me back to the bus station and I came home with all my lovely photos.

OmicronPersei8 Wed 05-Jan-11 16:27:18

As several other posters have said, I have found what has happened to you to be deeply affecting. Well done for finding a new solicitor and for talking to the police. This must be a real rollercoaster of a week, I hope that you can find some comfort in knowing that you were loved and provided for, it's just so sad you were cheated of it all.

How special to finally see all those photos too. Do you have someone at home who can look after you tonight? Sounds like you're in need of a little tlc.

maryz Wed 05-Jan-11 16:28:13

Oh, zeebrugge, that is just awful sad.

I presume the first solicitors are shitting themselves, because they realise they have made a balls of it.

The new solicitors need to get some sort of injunction on your aunt and uncle and make sure they can't hide it all away, or destroy any more of your possessions.

I'm sure this is also bringing back all your grief and confusion from the time, which must be awful. But revenge can be sweet and they deserve to be punished for what they have done to you - not just the financial mistreatment, but the neglect and the emotional abuse they have caused by letting you think that your parents didn't care about you.

I wish you all the best and hope you have the strength to carry this through.

Horton Wed 05-Jan-11 16:44:10

I have just read all of this and am so so sorry for what you have gone through. I'm really pleased that you are pursuing this and hope that you get both some answers and some personal satisfaction out of the process. It must be nice to know that your parents did love you and did leave you their possessions and did try to make provision for your future. Wishing you all the very best, and I hope the court case is not too traumatic for you.

jacksgrannie Wed 05-Jan-11 16:53:48

zeebrugge - I have read your story with mounting horror.

I am a retired solicitor. It is essential that you get good professional advice. You have consulted a different solicitor - I hope they are real specialists. This will be an action against your aunt and uncle for breach of trust/fraud and a professional negligence action against your parents' solicitor.

Make sure your new solicitor is well qualified for this - you should have someone experienced in these sorts of cases. They should also explain clearly the basis of how the case will be paid for.

The Law Society website has a list of specialist solicitors.

It might be a good idea to print off this thread to show the police/your new solicitor.

The very best of luck - sometimes I am so ashamed of the behaviour of some of my former profession. You were a vulnerable young person and no-one bothered to look out for you.

Just remember - your mum and dad really wanted the best for you and wanted you to be looked after. They loved you and had no idea your aunt and uncle would turn out like this.

CarGirl Wed 05-Jan-11 16:53:52

I think I suggested it nearer the beginning of the thread but I would ask your gp to refer your for some sort of counselling/therapy as I think you will need some impartial emotional support through this.

It's as though everything you have felt/though has been pissed on. I hope it's a real comfort to you that you now know about a shred of evidence how much your parents loved you and thought of you and had provided for your future.

nymphadora Wed 05-Jan-11 16:54:10

Well done for going to the police & new solicitor.
I have just Cried at thethought of you sitting there alone looking at the pictures.

CarGirl Wed 05-Jan-11 16:56:18

As jacksgrannie has posted it's great that you've got the ball rolling but yes find a specialist to help sort this mess out, you could ask your new solicitor to help find you someone who is prepared to do this pro bono.

Perhaps someone can clarify but I should think the professional association will have some sort of insurance and if the original solicitor is found guilty then the insurance will cover the costs????

me too nymphadora a little lone figure sitting a bench with everything they hold dear in a box. Obviously looking at those memories gave th OP the courage to take the action she has today.

jacksgrannie Wed 05-Jan-11 17:18:23

CarGirl - yes, the negligent solicitors will have professional insurance to cover the action against themselves.

The reason they were so strange today with zeebrugge is that they realise they have seriously messed up.

Whilst they will not have to pay the damages, their insurance premium is likely to be affected for years to come.

NonnoMum Wed 05-Jan-11 17:36:01

Thinking of you Zee. Glad you got to see some happy memories and glad you are realising that you mum and dad did want to look after you after they went, but unfortunately, the greed of the living has taken away what it rightfully yours.
Been thinking of you all day.
Tell us a bit about you, if you don't mind. Do you have children of your own? I'm guessing you are in your 40s now. How old were you when you were adopted? Did you look super-cute in the photos? And did your Mum and Dad look super-pleased to have you? Think of the joy you brought them.

This will be sorted out.

We're all here for you, and if we were lawyers, we'd be fighting a path to your door to offer you the best possible advice.


CarGirl Wed 05-Jan-11 17:52:51

Zee something that makes me sad is that I'd noticed your name on the board before and often wondered why anyone would use it because I thought to myself the only think I link with zeebrugge is the disaster, thought it was strange sad I was born in '72 so remember it quite vividly as it was a journey we often make on holiday.

Hope you are okay I can't imagine how you must be feeling.

HattiFattner Wed 05-Jan-11 18:19:07

zeebrugge, whatever happens in the next few months or years, you can now hold something close to your heart - you were loved!

your parents tried to ensure that if anything happened to them, you would be taken care of. SO much so that they made wills regularly. The fault lies not with their love for you, but with the people assigned to take care of you.

I hope you are gorging yourself on family photos right now, and basking in the love you will see there.

Northernlebkuchen Wed 05-Jan-11 18:29:01

This is so awful - so pleased you have your photos. Just keep going now ok. You have been robbed and your parents robbed - of all the things they wanted for your life. You have a right to get back what you can.

lostinwales Wed 05-Jan-11 18:42:23

Hey zeebrugge, I've been lurking on this thread, I was also adopted and we must be a similar age, I have spent the day with my parents and I feel so fortunate to have them. I'm not very good at expressing this sort of thing but your parents must have loved you so very much, adopted children are so very precious and wanted. I cannot imagine losing them at such a tough age, IIRC I was an arsey teenage girl and didn't appreciate my parents until I was in my 20's. Just know that you would have been loved and wanted and as much their child as any born to them in their eyes AND those of the law. Good luck sorting this all out. I imagine you have a very good case. (And karma, or whatever you want to call it will come around and bite your aunt and uncle on the arse if there is any justice in this world!)

zeebrugge Wed 05-Jan-11 18:48:05

I've been sitting in my little house looking at all my pictures. It has been a lovely time for me although I have cried quite a lot as well. Sometimes I can almost hear their voices again as I look at the pictures.

I expect Aunt and Uncle are sitting in (my?) big house very worried about what is going to happen. I don't expect they know I have been to the police.

My husband gets back on Saturday. He works 2 weeks on and 1 week off. I have not told him all that has gone on yet as I don't want him to be worrying all the time.

lostinwales Wed 05-Jan-11 18:52:52

I'm glad you can enjoy the memories through the tears, I've shed a couple reading this thread. I don't know how you feel towards your aunt and uncle but can I hate them with pure rage on your behalf for a while? They will be worrying themselves silly at the moment whilst you are basking in the warm glow of lovely memories.

You have to post on Saturday, I can't wait to hear DH's reaction, he'll be gobsmacked!

legaleagle2 Wed 05-Jan-11 19:44:51

If I was defending your aunt and uncle what would I do in a, probably vain, attempt to avoid them being given a fairly substantial prison term?

The first thing I would do is to get them to move out of your house. And to do so with all possible speed.

I would also get them to make you an interim (NB) cash payment. I suggest that the correlation between the size of this payment and the chance of them avoiding prison is close to +1. In other words the more the better.

Unless of course they choose to deny the charges.

Colleagues with specialised knowledge of serious crime might have a different perspective. I plead guilty to having become emotionally involved in this thread.

eviscerateyourmemory Wed 05-Jan-11 19:54:35

Zeebrugge - do you have anyone supportive in real life who could go with you to these appointments (could your DH if he is on-shore)? It sounds like a lot to be going through on your own, when it is such an emotional thing to be dealing with, but also lots of new information to take in.

tribpot Wed 05-Jan-11 20:40:15

zeebrugge, what a day you have had. In good news you have photos and mementos of your parents, and the knowledge that they did try to provide for you in the event of their deaths. That must be such a relief for you.

In the bad news, it would seem you have been the deception of an appalling fraud at the most vulnerable time in your life, by the very people chosen by your parents to care for you should anything happen to them. How appalling for you.

On a practical note, would you like to combine your two threads so that you don't have to post twice? Just repoint posters from one to the other, I'll do it for you if you like.

As others have said, you are going to need specialist help, and I don't doubt that you will find lawyers willing to help you pro bono under the circumstances. You do need people to talk to in real life as well, what a huge amount to take in after so long.

Wishing you all the very best, and I hope that eventually justice will be done. You and your parents deserve nothing less.

Horton Wed 05-Jan-11 20:50:51

Just wanted to say, zeebrugge, I think you are very very brave to be taking this action now, especially after all that you've been through. My heart goes out to you. I really hope it all works out in the best possible way for you. I think your parents would be very proud of what you are doing now (I know I would be if it was my daughter), they would have wanted nothing less.

MrsSchadenfreude Wed 05-Jan-11 21:13:22

What Horton says. And do you have a good support network of RL friends who can help you with this - eg someone who could take notes when you go and see the solicitor?

troylawyer Wed 05-Jan-11 23:52:55

Zeebrugge, what can I say?

Looking back at this very long thread, I realise that I was the second poster to respond to your original message an hour and a half after your original post and that seems a very long time ago now, and yet only a week has elapsed. I answered your original message as my field as a solicitor is children in care and adoption work but I had no idea that this discussion would take us all on such an incredible journey. In 23 years of practice, I don't think I have encountered a set of facts like this.

Like many of the lawyers who have contributed to this debate, I have voiced my concerns about the conduct of the solicitor who drafted the original wills but it would appear that today he has realised that there is a major problem here and he has appropriately referred you elsewhere. I am pleased that you seem to have stumbled across a good example of a member of our profession but I would again raise a word of caution if I may. You have referred to a "family solicitor" but I would suggest that this is not a matter of family law as such, even though it relates to your family. It is a mixture of probate, negligence, crime and possibly breach of statutory duty (by the local authority) and you need to make sure that your representatives have expertise in each area. Unless you have consulted with a fairly substantial firm that has a number of different departments that can cover each aspect, you are likely to need to consult with different people in relation to each area of expertise. Please do not presume that your well meaning solicitor who has helped you today is competent to deal with each of these specialist areas and ask them to be clear with you about what their expertise is. Do not be afraid to ask one of us if you have covered all bases and if your solicitor is a goodie, they should be willing to assist you by steering you in the right direction if there are aspects that they cannot deal with themselves.

I would also respectfully agree with the suggestion that you can do a lot worse than print off this thread and show it to your solicitor in case there are aspects that you need help explaining. Another word of caution is that although we all feel quite emotional about your experience and rightly so, the solicitor's task is to unravel the facts and gather the evidence and not get carried away by the emotion. My worry is that some of the heartfelt and well meaning posts on here have lapsed into the territory of speculation about what has gone on, and while some of the theories put forward may turn out to be correct, at this stage they may actually only serve to confuse you in trying to make sense of all of this. A balanced and measured approach is required and perhaps a degree of restraint would actually be more helpful and I hope that no one is offended by that observation.

All in all, I hope that you feel supported Zeebrugge and good luck with the next stage of this amazing journey.

PurpleHat Thu 06-Jan-11 01:03:59

TroyLawyer- that really was an excellent post
Zebrugge- I have only just come across this thread and am amazed at your strength. I am so happy for you that the truth has at last come out and hope that the rest of the process does not prove too stressful for you.

You are a daughter to be proud of

NonnoMum Thu 06-Jan-11 09:21:31

How are you Zee? Still thinking of you. Glad there is some brilliant legal advice on here - hope you have some RL support.
Let us know how you are, even if it's just a quick post...

zeebrugge Thu 06-Jan-11 09:34:35

I am sitting her weeping. The lad two doors down managed to transfer a cassette of my Mum and Dad talking about how I came to be adopted onto a CD. I have not heard their voices since 1987!

I cannot talk to my husband yet. His job is quite dangerous and if he is distracted by worrying about me he might have an accident.

I feel like my Aunt and Uncle stole everything from me. For years I was left thinking that my Mum and Dad had not cared about me just so Aunt and Uncle could rob me. It is not right!

Pantofino Thu 06-Jan-11 09:42:59

My goodness me, Zeebrugge! I have just caught up with this thread and am speechless and SOOO angry on your behalf!

I was born and brought up in Dover, so remember the tragedy and aftermath of the Herald disaster very clearly. I am so sorry for the loss of your parents, and glad you {finally} have your box of photos.

I have no legal expertise, but it sounds like you are getting some great advice here. I hope the Police will be taking some speedy action!

Pantofino Thu 06-Jan-11 09:53:36

Do you have anyone who can come round and sit with you/give you a hug/support you with this whilst your DH is away. I would if I was anywhere nearby!

I am still shock that these evil, heartless bastards have got away with this for so long! sad

prh47bridge Thu 06-Jan-11 10:10:22

Excellent news about the cassette.

Agree with Troylawyer that, although this is all about your family, it isn't family law. A solicitor who specialises in family law will primarily deal with divorce, child contact and related matters. Troylawyer's list of specialities sounds about right to me. I hope you end up with a great legal team sorting this out for you.

There is still a lot of work to do to determine what has been lost and who is culpable. But this isn't just about money. You have had 23 years of thinking that your parents didn't care about you. Nothing can ever fully recompense you for that.

My thoughts are with you.

NonnoMum Thu 06-Jan-11 10:43:01

Wow - that's amazing to have sound recordings of their voices.
Is there anyone else you could talk to (appreciate you DH is away) - How about the people you saw over Christmas who originally suggested that you might (indeed?!) be entitled to something? Were they close friends?
Where abouts are you? You might find there are some MNers who could pop over to see you??

Resolution Thu 06-Jan-11 10:46:28

Just to add my tuppence worth....

It sounds as if they were acting as trustees initially - as you were under 18 when your parents died the house would have to have been conveyed to trustees to hold on your behalf.

If they have had access to your inheritance that will have been as trustees.

There are strict rules governing what they can and cannot take for.

They were under a duty to manage the house for your benefit - that means either having you live in it, or renting it out to earn an income for you. Living there themselves is a breach of this duty. Paying for the upkeep of the house may be allowed, eg if it is to repair a roof, but you should hold them to account for all items of expenditure. They should be asked to produce trust accounts from the time when the took control of your assets.

One thing they absolutely cannot do is pay themselves an allowance. That is theft.

To sum up therefore, I think you have the following claims:

1. repayment of the allowance they paid themselves.
2. repayment of money spent on the house that does not constitute valid upkeep, or which cannot be satisfactorily explained as such.
3. Damages for breach of trust, in their failure to let out the property to produce an income for you.

Good luck.

legaleagle2 Thu 06-Jan-11 13:35:29

Much good advice has been offered here and as far as I can see it has been acted upon. It think this reflects much credit on all concerned.

I suspect that OP might have been advised (by her legal team and/or the police) to exercise some caution in what she now posts here.

The post by Resolution identifies some, but by no mean all, of the issues facing your aunt and uncle.

tenpercentdiscount Thu 06-Jan-11 16:22:29

Do you think that perhaps you should get your threads pulled. Best of luck btw.

Pantofino Thu 06-Jan-11 21:49:58

Hope you are OK Zeebrugge, you must have had such an emotional day! ((((hugs)))))

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 06-Jan-11 22:05:43

Have been thinking about you all day too.

Jux Fri 07-Jan-11 19:23:53

Oh good luck Zeebrugge. It is an awful blow to discover that one's relatives have been cheating all along, and to such a great extent.

It is so good that you now have pictures and that beautiful recording, and most of all, the knowledge that they were thinking of you, that they did love you and that they did make provision for you. That knowledge can serve to wrap you up in a soft warm blanket of love, and empower to see that their wishes are carried out and that justice is done.

All the best. xxx

(and do come back and let us know when you can; no one will be able to forget this)

melezka Sat 08-Jan-11 12:36:06

Z please take advantage of the advice troy has given you. Much harm could be done at this stage by a lawyer without the necessary specialist knowledge. Whoever you choose please be as sure as you can that they know the law around these issues inside out and have all the relevant experience.

(Speaking as someone who wishes she had done this)

bamboostalks Sat 08-Jan-11 13:07:00

Hardly ever post but no one could read this thread and not post, what an incredible experience. No expert advice although really impressed with all the advice so far.

I really feel for you. This is an amazing story, you sound a lovely person. Wishing you the very best outcome.

NonnoMum Sat 08-Jan-11 13:27:51

How are you now?

zeebrugge Sat 08-Jan-11 15:58:21

My Husband is back with me and he was very surprised at all that has happened. He is proud of me which makes me feel happy. I have shown him the photos. He liked that because he had never seen me as a baby. He is very angry about what has happened to me but now likes Mumsnet readers because they helped me so much.

I can only write a little bit of what has happened. I think the police have to do most of the actual investigating now. My solicitor and aunt and uncles solicitor have looked at all the official records and the house is really mine. Not even a bit theirs. So they didn't steal it, just borrowed it as somebody said to us.

They have agreed to or got (not clear which) move out of the house in 28 days. It all seems very complex but I think I could move in then if I want.

I am making a list of all the funny legal words I have heard used. The latest two bits were prima facie evidence and police bail. I even know what the first one means because I asked.

Portofino Sat 08-Jan-11 16:46:32

Oh great news Zeebrugge! I am sure you can't go into too many details on here - if there is an active police investigation, maybe you should ask for the thread to be deleted.

I hope that you will get everything that your parents left to you (and that the nasty relatives haven't plundered too much.)

Please come back and let us know how you are doing though!

Portofino Sat 08-Jan-11 16:47:59

Just a thought, presumably there was furniture and your/your parents personal possessions in the house.....I hope they are still there!

PurpleHat Sat 08-Jan-11 16:59:49

Oh, how exciting for you to be able to move back in- are you going to?

Horton Sat 08-Jan-11 17:01:28

I would love to hear about everything that's happened once you are able to tell us, after the legal stuff is out of the way. I am also really happy to hear that you have a good and kind DH to look after you. I bet he is spitting mad.

Would you want to move back into the house? I imagine that would feel pretty weird. Even if you don't, I expect selling it would set you up nicely for the future. Nice to know that you can soon go there and remember the good times and the love your parents had for you, though.

Wishing you all the very best. I do hope you will continue to let us know how you are doing.

Horton Sat 08-Jan-11 17:04:32

Also, you know, your aunt and uncle may not have strictly speaking stolen the house. I mean, they are not the owners. I bet they would be if they could have managed it, though. Thank goodness your parents left proper wills.

NonnoMum Sat 08-Jan-11 17:06:53

Agree with Portofino that maybe you should ask for this thread to be deleted whilst there is a police investigation going on.
Glad things seem to be going well for you. Glad your DH understands how nosy supportive MNers can be!
But do come back and tell us about everything once this has been concluded. (Unless we read about it in the press!)
Good luck and stay strong.

Portofino Sat 08-Jan-11 17:37:31

Horton - yes after 23 years, I bet they thought they had got away with it! 23 years of rent free living, and an "allowance" - though I understand they weren't there the whole time..... I would love to be a fly on the wall in that house now!

But at the end of the day, money is money. At least there is still a house, but you can't erase 23 years of positively criminal negligence/behaviour towards the OP.

melezka Sat 08-Jan-11 18:04:42

Legal people - if the police are involved will that necessarily make it a criminal investigation? And does that mean Z will not be in charge of choosing representation? Or does she still?

CarGirl Sat 08-Jan-11 18:12:33

Why don't you ask MN towers to move this thread to "off the beaten track" where it can't be picked up by googling and non-members.

I can't believe your A & U thought it may be theres when the will was so clear in the first place hmm

legaleagle2 Sat 08-Jan-11 18:15:21

This is what my dear daughter would good "big league stuff".

The police have massive resources and many staff with lots of experience at getting to the bottom of even the most complicated crimes. I don't think her own solicitor will have too much to do at present.

I would not imagine that any thread on Mumsnet will influence any investigation and it might prove a learning experience for us all. I for one have checked and double checked my will.

Portofino Sat 08-Jan-11 18:21:38

Zeebrugge was seriously let down by the professionals involved here. It is so sad.

melezka Sat 08-Jan-11 18:21:39

Agree legal - and oh how I wish I was on mn a few years ago. The education is priceless.

Milngavie Sat 08-Jan-11 18:28:50

Zee has heard the words Police bail which could mean that the Police have done something?

Zee I keep thinking of you, stay strong x

Jux Sat 08-Jan-11 21:10:32

Who was living in the house when they weren't. Was it being rented out? If so, what has happened to that money?

troylawyer Sat 08-Jan-11 21:12:03

If the aunt and uncle are on police bail, it means that they have probably been arrested and interviewed and then told to come back to the police station at a date in the future pending further enquiries. If they are charged with a criminal offence, Zeebrugge's interests will be represented by the Crown Prosecution Service and she will be a poetntial witness in any future trial, unless they plead guilty in which case there would be no trial.

As I indicated in a previous post, the criminal aspects of this are only one issue and Zeebrugge will be able to choose her own representation in relation to any other issues that arise. If the aunt and uncle are convicted of a crime, it will make it much easier for her to prove other aspects as the standard of proof in a criminal case is higher than in civil proceedings (beyond a reasonable doubt as opposed to a balance of probabilities). Now that the police appear to be involved, I would suggest that Zeebrugge can focus now on the other claims that she has and in particular, the role of the local authority in all of this which prima facie (on the face of it) seems to have been grossly negligent.

It is great that significant progress seems to be happening now so very best of luck over these next few weeks.

clumsymumluckybaby Sun 09-Jan-11 00:20:20

i have been following this from the very start,but i have had nothing useful to say.
it has made me well up several times.

i just wanted to tell you how pleased i am that you now know the truth,your parents meant for you to stay in your home,be loved and looked after by family and set up for life in terms of money.

what your aunt and uncle did is beyond words.i cannot believe they could be so cruel.

but at least you know the truth now.

your parents loved you very very

nymphadora Sun 09-Jan-11 12:04:18

I agree with trylawyer. Look into the LAs part in the situation. Were they officially involved? Get your file, find out if FC were official & therefore shouldn't have been taking your wages.

MrsSchadenfreude Sun 09-Jan-11 16:14:33

What a week you have had! This is MN at its best - you've had some fantastic advice here.

I hope your aunt and uncles are really shitting themselves now. They must have thought after 23 years that they had got away with all this.

If you do delete this thread, please come back and let us know how you get on. smile

broughthimroundtotheidea Sun 09-Jan-11 16:53:00

My goodness this is astounding!!! I am so angry for you, the bit that makes my blood boil the most, is that they took that money and then put you into foster care!! Then paid themselves an allowance for 23 years!?!

Well done for challenging all this and I truelly hope it is all over swiftly for you.

Lets hope Karma is watching......

catinthehat2 Sun 09-Jan-11 23:27:49

What an incredible tale!

Batteryhuman Mon 10-Jan-11 19:48:06

An amazing story. I am so sad for all Zeebrugge has gone through but as Clumsymum said above you now know that your parents loved you very very much.

Well done to all on this thread for the support and sound advice you have given. This thread will remain in my mind for a long time. All hail the collective power of Mumsnet

CarGirl Tue 11-Jan-11 18:12:14

Still thinking of you, hope you are getting plenty of real life support x

zeebrugge Thu 13-Jan-11 16:44:36

I was able to visit my house today for the first time since just after my Mum and Dad died in 1987. It felt very strange, I was sad and happy at the same time. My husband had never even seen the house before.

The two lots of solicitors and the police all agreed that It was OK for us to go today. Aunt and Uncle had to go out for the morning so I don’t meet them. There were some things I remembered. My old bedroom looks the same and still had the same wall paper. Some of the furniture like the dining room table and sideboard were Mum and Dads so I supposed they are mine now. My old bike was in the garden shed, very rusty now. The next door neighbours are the same but they just waved at me because they might be witnesses and so I cannot speak to them about what has happened.

The two lots of solicitors just sat on the sofa and stared at each other while I wondered round so I could not stay too long.

Since I last wrote I have had to make a very, very long statement to the police which took nearly three hours including a short tea break. I think this is only about the third time I can remember ever going to a police station. It was a bit like being in “The Bill”.

Aunt and Uncle are busy “liquefying assets” (another new phrase I have learned) because they are going to give me a big cheque as an “interim payment” (second new phrase I have learned) in partial mitigation (third new phrase I have learned). I don’t know how much this might be.

Batteryhuman Thu 13-Jan-11 16:58:09

Wow Zeebrugge what an emotional rollercoaster for you.

Sounds like your aunt and uncle are trying to avoid going to prison though the scale of what they have done to you is quite astounding.

I so admire your sense of humour through all this and hope you can continue to process all this in the way you appear to have started. No doubt there are more revelations to come. Good luck to you and your DH.

prh47bridge Thu 13-Jan-11 17:20:58

Yes, it is all yours and has been all along. The house, your parent's furniture, your bike - everything.

I am not surprised at what aunt and uncle are doing. They seem to be following Legaleagle's advice! I hope they have enough assets to make good all your losses but, after 23 years of paying themselves an allowance out of your money and living in your house, I have my doubts.

I hope the police and/or your solicitors will be investigating the family solicitor's comment that the tax (presumably on the estate) was lower than he expected. That may be innocent but it may be another indicator of your parent's estate being plundered. The fact that there were no papers relating to the granting of probate is also worrying but I expect someone has looked into that by now. And I know I keep banging on about this but I hope someone is going to look into what happened about life insurances, pensions, compensation from P&O, payouts from the public appeal, etc. Finally, I hope your solicitors are doing a good job of looking into what claims you may have against people other than your aunt and uncle.

But my main thought is how glad I am that you have finally been able to visit your house for the first time in 23 years and that your aunt and uncle will soon be out of there.

LadyBiscuit Thu 13-Jan-11 17:37:02

I cannot believe this - what a pair of evil bastards. I hope they get sent to prison for allowing you to spend 23 years of your life feeling that your parents didn't love you, regardless of the financial stuff.

I think you're amazing and hope you have the strength to pursue them to the ends of the earth for the loss and pain they have subjected you to.

I am so glad you've had such great advice on this thread.

NonnoMum Thu 13-Jan-11 18:15:44

Thank you for the update, Zee. You sound so incredibly calm - what an amazing woman you must be.

So, what are you thinking? Live there or possibly sell up? Whatever you decide, take your time...

CarGirl Thu 13-Jan-11 18:56:32

I'm so glad to read that some of your parents possession and your room are there/much the same. Hopefully the house will soon be vacant and you can enjoy it as and when you like and enjoy all the happy memories.

minipen Thu 13-Jan-11 19:03:01

I am pleased things are moving for you, don't feel you have to rush into any decision re the house or anything, take your time, is your OH home for a while?

HattiFattner Fri 14-Jan-11 12:47:03

how lovely to visit your home smile - I hope you were able to find some peace there. Im sure your parents are at peace knowing that their baby is back where she belongs. How great that your room was the same! I hope you had some happy memories while you wandered around.

This is going to be a long drawn out process, so take your time about any decisions that need to be made. Id recommend confiding in an old and sensible friend that you can trust, just so you and DH have a sounding board when you need one.

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 14-Jan-11 14:23:56

I think the best thing that has come of this is clearly how much your parents did love you. And words really fail me on your aunt and uncle's behaviour. I hope that they have enough assets to recompense for their behaviour over the past 23 years. Although I think prison and homelessness are really quite a sweet outcome for them for their behaviour.

It must have been lovely to see the house again, and to see your room as it was. smile

legaleagle2 Fri 14-Jan-11 16:15:09

I expect your legal representative has already said this to you but I strongly suggest that your Aunt and Uncle should not allowed to remove anything from your house unless and until they can prove it was paid for using their own money rather than yours.

I can see no good reason why your Aunt and Uncle should still be in your house. Assuming of course that both parties have agreed that the house is indeed yours. I gather that is indeed the case.

You will doubtless have been warned that all matters involving a case of this complexity and the police will take time. Lots of it. However you can be quite certain that all those involved will be relishing the task of getting you justice. You have my word on that.

The sums of money involved are likely to be very substantial and you would be well advised to take expert financial advice sooner rather than later.

I and my colleagues wish you well. You have certainly been the subject of much lunchtime conversation.

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 14-Jan-11 18:41:26

When are they moving out? (I actually wanted to ask, WTF are they still doing there, but thought I would be polite for a change!)

bamboostalks Fri 14-Jan-11 21:22:20

You sound the loveliest person, do not be too forgiving of these people, they should go to prison.

NonnoMum Sun 16-Jan-11 13:57:33

How are you Zee? Hope you are allowing it all to sink in.

zeebrugge Sun 16-Jan-11 15:00:11

My husband has gone back to work now. He works 2 weeks on then one week off so I will have to manage on my own again. All day Friday I was hoping for a phone call to say when I could visit my house again. But nothing happened which was a pity.

But on Saturday I was told that I can visit the house again on Tuesday once Aunt and Uncle have moved out. They have "signed over" almost everything in the house to me. If it is in the house after 12 on Tuesday it is mine!

I am not allowed to know where they have gone. All I know is that they must report to a police station once a week and they have surrendered their passports. Perhaps the Police think they are going to run away?

I think my adopted Mum and Dad would be so cross if they knew what had happened but I am happy, in a crying sort of way, that they did really love me after all!!

CarGirl Sun 16-Jan-11 15:05:58

Wow Zee I'm glad things have moved on quickly.

I'm very happy that you are really absorbing how much your parents loved you. I can so imagine how painful it must be to reconcile how abandoned you have felt in the past, with the injustice of having been denied what should have been, and now I don't know the guilt (?) for thinking that your parents didn't care.

Can I suggest that when you feel in a better place that you have some sort of party or celebration of yours and your parents life something to help draw a line under the cloud that have endured since Zeebrugge? I just think it would be a positive way to celebrate how much you and your parents loved each other. They would be so so so proud of you.

NonnoMum Sun 16-Jan-11 19:52:40

Am amazed at you and your story.

I bet even if you found millions and millions of pounds, just knowing that they loved you and wanted the best for your future is even more priceless...

As for your aunt and uncle, gulp, can't imagine how they must be feeling now. Did they have kids themselves? (I am guessing NOT?) Do you have kids?

minipen Mon 17-Jan-11 14:16:19

I am so pleased you have your house back, overwhelmingly I feel you should have someone with you to share in your memories and just listen to whatever you have to say, of course you have everyone here on MN and your husband when he is back. I think your Aunt and Uncle have shown how they can't be trusted which is why they have to keep reporting to the police.

In earlier posts someone mentioned disaster action, I think it was set up after the Zeebrugge disaster, I just wondered if you needed someone to talk to. You have been absolutley amazing with how you have dealt with everything, take care of you

Bideyin Tue 18-Jan-11 10:22:33

Hope the house handover goes well today Z x

PaisleyLeaf Tue 18-Jan-11 12:02:54

Have they gone?

(I'm not sure why they should get to decide what to leave in the house).

ensure Tue 18-Jan-11 12:57:17

What an emotional story. I hope you are feeling ok, it sounds like it has been a shocking few weeks!

zeebrugge Tue 18-Jan-11 16:49:50

It has been a very strange day. My best friend of over 20 years came with me in her car to the house. My house. We picked up the keys from the solicitors and were allowed to spend as long as we wanted looking round it. There were some old looking things I remembered, like the piano (still out of tune). My bedroom looks almost identical and still had the same wall paper with a stain behind the headboard. The dining room table and sideboard were certainly Mum and Dads and so were some of the dishes and plates.

Lots of things I could not be certain about. It was all such a long time ago. I was brave today because I didn’t cry once and having my friend there helped me a lot.

I have got to see a special doctor tomorrow to help me talk though all the thoughts running around in my head. My GP sorted it out for me with a friend of his. I have to make a list of the happy thoughts like finding out that my Mum and Dad did love me after all. And the worst ones like when I was beaten with a strap at the fake foster home and what I think about my aunt and uncle. I am allowed to say everything I feel to this doctor. Even things my husband doesn’t know about.

I am running out of days to have off from my job which is difficult.

crystalglasses Tue 18-Jan-11 17:06:46

This is such an exceptional time for you that surely most employers would understand.
Can you take some unpaid leave?

Are you going to move into your own home? Surely if it's yours you should have your own set of keys?

Horton Tue 18-Jan-11 19:56:30

I bet your GP would sign you off for a few days, as needed, given what you've had to go through. Lovely to hear that you are in possession of your own home.

Interesting to hear about the fake foster home. Do you have confirmation of this?

CarGirl Tue 18-Jan-11 20:48:20

I'm very glad to hear about you being able to spend time in your home again. Please ask your gp to sign you off, you have been through a huge emotional event in a very short period of time - it's great to hear that the gp has referred you already to some sort of therapist to help you through such overwhelming feelings.

NonnoMum Tue 18-Jan-11 22:15:31

Your GP sounds great to have got you that referral.
The police were good in recognising that something needed to be done.
Your (new) legal team sound on top of everything.
Your DH sounds fab.
Your bessie mate is obviously a trouper.

And your parents were fanBLOODYtastic for loving you, loving you, loving you and providing for your future.

(No words for aunt and uncle - you can let rip with the therapist)

Well done. Keep strong. Think about the years ahead of you with DH by your side. wink

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 20-Jan-11 07:30:50

Wow, Zee! All this in less than a month! Can you not ask for some special leave (unpaid if necessary) from your job? I still can't get over how evil your aunt and uncle have been to you.

bamboostalks Fri 21-Jan-11 08:24:51

Any news Zee? have been thinking of your incredible story. Hope the therapist has been helpful.

zeebrugge Fri 21-Jan-11 16:21:21

I talked for a long time to the special type of doctor. All the different feelings in my head just came out in a jumbled mess. Things I have never said before. Horrible things. Anger mainly about my aunt and uncle and their friend who was supposed to be looking after me. Their friend who stole half my wages and who hit me for keeping my Christmas bonus. Anger about how hard my DH has had to work to support us when all the time Aunt and Uncle were stealing my money and our money. How my chances of a good job and a career were stolen when I was made to leave school. I used to be nearly top the class. Now my brains are just mush from not being used. How ashamed I feel at been cheated by these people. What could I do? I was young, no parents, no one to help. Just the twig lashed across the back of my legs if I complained.

But, but, but. From Monday I can live in my proper home for the first time. All the time if I want. And I do, so much. We are giving the months notice on our rented house. The first lot of compensation should be in the bank by then. I am not allowed to say how much except it would be more than DH earns in 6 years!

What do I want to do most? I want to take my DH on a holiday and I want to go to the local college to learn to use my brain again. And I want to see Aunt and Uncle sent away for ever but that is a bad wish I know!

Resolution Fri 21-Jan-11 17:06:43

Sometimes people need to be punished. The desire for justice is not a bad wish.

Sounds like you're going to literally feel right at home.

coldtits Fri 21-Jan-11 17:40:17

Oh how WONDERFUL for you that you have your house back, and you now have the knowledge that your parents loved you entirely.

prh47bridge Fri 21-Jan-11 19:37:44

You have been cheated by these people. They have stolen your money and your life.Now it is time for you to claim something back. And they should be punished for what they did.

CarGirl Fri 21-Jan-11 19:38:43

Zee don't be hardy on yourself it's very early days still.

Have you thought about writing an autobiography - it could be very cathertic even if you never want to get it published.

If you do be sure to let me know wink

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 21-Jan-11 21:01:15

So much in less than a month! I bet your aunt and uncle thought they had got away with it after so long. Let's hope that having lived free as a feather and paying themselves for the privilege that they have lots of dosh saved to pay you what is rightfully yours.

How fantastic for you that you are moving back into your house so soon!

RumourOfAHurricane Sat 22-Jan-11 11:48:43

Message withdrawn

RealityIsKnockedUp Sat 22-Jan-11 14:30:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsSchadenfreude Sat 22-Jan-11 15:58:45

Yes, Reality, she's got her lovely Aunt and Uncle - have you not read the thread? hmm confused

I'm an only child, it wouldn't seem unusual to me to have so few family members.

"Special type of doctor" - could have been a counsellor? Or one with some fancy title that she can't remember.

RumourOfAHurricane Sat 22-Jan-11 17:36:01

Message withdrawn

MrsSchadenfreude Sat 22-Jan-11 20:27:30

This thread got to 200+ messages with lots of helpful advice before you two jumped in doubting. She has had a lot of good advice on here. I don't think it's too far fetched at all, and, err, neither do a large number of other posters.

If you think she's a troll, or a DM journo, why not obey the MN troll policy - ignore and report?

Jaquelinehyde Sat 22-Jan-11 20:39:03

Can I ask one simple question that through out this whole thread has kept jumping out at me...

Where were you whilst your parents were on that ill fated ferry trip?

Why had they left you behind?

I mean thankfully they did or you would have perished along with all those other poor people, but as an only adopted child, with no close family or friends for you to stay with. Where were you?

I do have other questions but shall leave it as that.

RumourOfAHurricane Sat 22-Jan-11 20:52:09

Message withdrawn

Oh ffs! Why the need to be 'clever'? The op has asked for nothing other than a listening ear.

MrsSchadenfreude Sat 22-Jan-11 21:49:28

Jacqueline, my parents would often nip off to Belgium or France for a few days when I was at school. I used to stay with friends or next door for a couple of nights if I couldn't go with them. No big deal.

prh47bridge Sun 23-Jan-11 00:32:54

Firstly, she has not said that she was not with her parents. There were many survivors from Zeebrugge.

However, if we assume she wasn't, she was 16. The Herald of Free Enterprise capsized on 6th March 1987. That was a Friday during term time. She would have been in the final few weeks of school before taking her O Levels. If her parents went on the promotion organised by The Sun, as so many of the victims were, they would have been on a day trip to Belgium. I don't know the timings but I presume that would have meant setting out early in the morning, leaving their daughter to get herself to school. They would probably have expected to return home late that night. So leaving their 16 year old daughter behind to go to school while they had a day out in Belgium would have been no big deal.

Jaquelinehyde Sun 23-Jan-11 00:52:39

I was mearly asking a question that I'm sure Zee is more than capable of answering herself.

I was not attacking Zee, or trying to be clever just asking something about what had happened.

I shall hide the thread now though so don't bother answering Zee some of your followers have already done that for you.

Wormshuffler Sun 23-Jan-11 09:21:23

Why need to ask it ? what bearing does that have on the OP's questions?

maryz Sun 23-Jan-11 10:14:58

For heaven's sake everyone. Either Zeebrugge is being honest, telling an appalling story and looking for support, in which case that is what she is getting.

Or she has made it up to get a story for a book, and if so, so what? In either case picking it to pieces and calling her a troll is a waste of time. She isn't doing any harm, she isn't asking for money, she isn't emotionally draining anyone. Leave her alone ffs.

NonnoMum Sun 23-Jan-11 22:24:46

Agree with maryz.

legaleagle2 Mon 24-Jan-11 08:22:46

Do the “doubting Thomases” on this thread really believe that the solicitors who have invested time and effort in giving advice to the OP did so without making some basic checks?

You can take it as read that the OP is genuine.

RealityIsKnockedUp Mon 24-Jan-11 13:01:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Resolution Mon 24-Jan-11 13:12:16

I am quite happy to take the OP at face value, but legaleagle2 - I'm not sure what basic checks could possibly be made.

RumourOfAHurricane Mon 24-Jan-11 13:21:01

Message withdrawn

maryz Mon 24-Jan-11 13:37:22

But does it really matter either way?

Reality and Shiney, if it is a load of bollox, so what, why get involved. If you don't believe it fine, I don't care either way, but if there is a 0.0000000001% chance that it is true, ffs let it go.

There really is no point in just posting so that you can say "I told you so" confused.

RumourOfAHurricane Mon 24-Jan-11 13:43:22

Message withdrawn

RealityIsKnockedUp Mon 24-Jan-11 14:48:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zeebrugge Tue 25-Jan-11 10:14:57

Last night was my first night in my former home. I slept on the bed in my old room and I need to buy new bed clothes. I don’t want to use theirs. The pattern the streetlight made on the wall was just like it used to be. So was the funny noise from the water in pipes. I found a few things of mine in the attic but other things must be Aunt and Uncles.

Me having no car is difficult – DH takes it with him as he works away. 2 weeks on then 1 off. I think some money might be in the bank by now so we might look at buying a second small car.

I need to get phone and broadband sorted out here. I have not been able to read the thread until today. The lady opposite came over to see me yesterday not realising who I was. She has lived there 40 years and remembers my Mum. I am borrowing her computer to send emails to firms and Mumsnet.

About the special type of doctor – I have never seen the full title written down. It is about 10 words long. Something about Bereavement therapist.

The shop has given me compassionate leave for 7 working days but I think I will need to resign because it is too far to travel just for part time minimum wages.

I called in at the local college. I cannot start the course that would be good for me called Returning to Study until after Easter or in September.

My last job is to thank to the people who have helped me and even answered questions for me while I have not been around here. I’m sad that some people don’t believe me but sometimes even I cannot believe what happened to me either!

I will never forget that Friday night and Saturday morning in 1987.

PaisleyLeaf Tue 25-Jan-11 12:17:35

Thanks for popping back zeebrugge.

- I guess people find it unbelievable as it's just so like a fairy tale: with losing your parents and the wicked family members stealing your inheritance ........and the happy ending.

I bet that neighbour can tell you some stuff. I don't know how much you can talk about it with her yet.

crystalglasses Tue 25-Jan-11 13:22:57

Zeebrugge - thanks for your update. Your story has been like a fairy tale (tragic but with a happy ending)for use mners, which is why I've been gripped with it over the past month. However I'm under no illusions that the loss of your parents and subsequent action of your uncle and aunt have had a huge impact on your life. I fervently hope that this is a tale which has a long term happy ending for you. It sounds from your last post that you are signing off from mn. I hope not, or at least please let us know from time to time how things are going.

CarGirl Tue 25-Jan-11 19:49:08

Thank you for the update, I would carry on seeing the bereavement therapist for longer than you think you need it - they will tell you when you're not actually needing their help anymore.

Such a tragedy that this has gone on for many years and the mess will take a long time to be finally over sad

NonnoMum Tue 25-Jan-11 22:10:30

Hi Zeebrugge - glad you are getting settled.

If I can give you one bit of advice (take it or leave it, I'm no expert!), it seems to me that sometimes when a huge change has happened in your life, it might be worth keeping some of the everyday stuff going (i.e perhaps don't give up your job just yet). Regardless of money, sometimes it is worth having the familiarity of every day life (like your colleagues, your normal pattern of working, the moany old customers at work!) as that might help you keep down to earth whilst getting to grips with all that has happened to you.

What does your DH say about everything?

Can you get a taxi to work until you get the new car?

(Just ideas - won't feel bad if you ignore me...!)


Portofino Tue 25-Jan-11 22:15:30

Would it not be better to wait til you can move in properly with your dh? Why did you move in on your own when nothing is sorted and it makes it difficult for work? Did you not think about selling and making a fresh start?

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catinthehat2 Wed 26-Jan-11 20:12:29

I am choking up just reading it.
It has moved on since I last looked on the 9th

Portofino Wed 26-Jan-11 21:25:36

I will never forget that Friday night in 1987 either. I was on my own in the house for some reason and sat crying in shock at the news. I was 18.

Some of my friends lost their fathers - crew on the HOFE. Many families that I know were severely affected by the trauma, they either worked on that ferry, or worked on the 2 sister ferries. My DH worked on that ferry in his youth. My ex-FIL never worked again after that week - PTSD. I thought he might have overexaggerated a little....but still..

To anyone who had anything to do with the ferries and the port (a large number of Dover families) the Zeebrugge disaster was a nightmare come true. The worst UK maritime disaster after the Titanic, iirc. It took the town a LONG time to get over it.

I am glad that the OP has got her happy ending. There are plenty that didn't.

Jux Wed 26-Jan-11 21:50:18

Zeebrugge, so glad you've got your house and I hope everything else proceeds nicely for you.

You could do some basic OU courses to get you back into things and get your brain woken up. I'm just starting a maths course (MU123) and I'm not the only MNer to be doing it! (See here) for our OU support thread for students avoiding study.grin You will notice that we are all being very good at the moment and not posting that much. This is because we are keen and eager and haven't gone into proper avoidance mode yet. (My course doesn't even start until Feb 4th so I'm hoping that I'll get so far ahead now I won't have to worry about falling behind - some hope [rueful].)

What subjects were you most interested in at school? Were there any that you might have liked to pursue further? Is there a career that you have always (quietly) wished you'd been able to get into?

OU is brilliant at starting off with nice easy stuff - reminding you of things you used to know, or teaching you things you never knew - by starting right at the beginning; they're diagrams and examples are fantastic, and they have superb online tools too. Once they got you clear on the basic they move you on quite swiftly to the really interesting stuff. You just have to keep to your study schedule adn then you're fine.

You're not too old to start and this is probably a really good time to be studying for a qualification to lead on to getting work in a couple of years' time. Let's face it, there aren't many jobs around at the moment, so you could do plenty worse than study if you're getting a bit of dosh. (I paid for my course from my inheritance from my mum.)

MrsSchadenfreude Sun 30-Jan-11 19:59:02

Hi Zee - how are you getting on? smile

zeebrugge Tue 01-Feb-11 10:52:31

Nothing new to say about what the police are doing. All I know is that it might be months before any court case. There might not be a proper trial at all if Aunt and Uncle plead guilty. They get a lesser punishment if they do that.

I have not given up my job like I said I would. People here and my friends said it would be silly to do that. I spent money instead and got us a white 2005 Ford Ka to use when DH is not here. He works away doing 2 weeks on and 1 week off.

But I have given notice to leave the rental house we lived in for so long. I will miss some of the neighbours but not the noisy road. I am going to do a course at the local college starting in April to see if I can get my brain to work again. I signed up on Friday but don’t need to pay until nearer the time.

I am having counselling once a week for 6 weeks. I didn’t know how much hatred was inside me until I started talking about it.

The house is starting to feel more like it is really ours even though we have bigger bills to pay now.

Batteryhuman Tue 01-Feb-11 17:32:55

Good to hear you are settling in. getting a car seems a very sensible idea and you can now carry on with your job while you wait for your college course to start.

Who would have thought when you first started this thread in December that a month later you would be where you are now and know what you know now?

bamboostalks Tue 01-Feb-11 17:35:32

Great to hear that all is going well for you. Think of you often. Good Luck.

NonnoMum Tue 01-Feb-11 21:21:49

Good luck with everything.

zeebrugge Wed 06-Apr-11 11:34:48

I am so stressed by how slow the police are being. Any court case might be be months from now. Nobody seems able to tell me. Aunt and Uncle are telling stories about each other. Saying it was the other one who did all the cheating and lying. I think they should share the blame.

My Ford Ka is lovely and it has given me more freedom DH is not here. He still works away doing 2 weeks on and 1 week off.

I have left the rental home on the busy road and we live in our new home all the time. I have been told not to talk to the neighbours about the court case. I am so looking forward to going to the local college FE college in April to get my brain to work again.

I am also paid for extra counselling once a week for another 3 months. I am stuffed full of hated for Aunt and Uncle.

HarrietJones Wed 06-Apr-11 12:30:56

Totally understandable! Think there's a lot of MN hate for them too.

AvengingGerbil Wed 06-Apr-11 17:27:11

Zee, it's good to hear from you again. It will inevitably be a long and slow process until this comes to court. At least you can get on with your life now - your aunt/uncle are looking at the end of the life they've enjoyed at your expense. If you were small-minded (like me), you could derive satisfaction from the suspense and anxiety they must be undergoing now.

PurpleHat Wed 06-Apr-11 19:43:03

I have been thinking about you recently and wondering how you are so am delighted you logged back on

I can imagine it must be horrible to reflect on the last 24 years and how they both treated you, but I am so happy that you are at last happily settled in your family home.

Please keep popping back to update us as and when you feel you want to because I'm sure we all think about you from time to time

edam Wed 06-Apr-11 19:59:45

Wow. What an amazing story. Am so glad you have uncovered the truth - that you WERE loved and your parents did provide for you. Your aunt and uncle are villains as bad as any Dickens invented.

Glad you are having counselling - this is a huge betrayal and a massive change in your life that will take a long time to come to terms with.

zeebrugge Tue 31-Jan-12 08:50:34

I have been waiting and waiting for something to happen. Nothing does. Aunt and Uncle were supposed to give up their passports but ran away to France. It took ages to find them. Living quite a posh life, spending my money still. When they were made to come back Uncle found a doctor to say he has memory loss. Just an excuse to avoid a trial I think.
Once a month the CPS get in touch to say no progress yet. I feel forgotten by them all.
I am doing a course at an FE college and hope to go to university as a mature student in September. It has been so hard to get my brain working again. DH still works on the oil rigs.
My neighbours all know about the legal problems but we never discuss them. I was told not to.
I still think about my Mum and Dad being killed. Some days it really hurts inside.

catherinea1971 Tue 31-Jan-12 13:49:48

Zeebrugge I have just read your whole thread for the first time. Wow it has had me feeling all kinds of emotions for you tears anger and also joy.
I remember the disaster I am a couple of years younger than you and cannot imagine just how difficult it must have been for you.
Like you I would also be anxious to want some finality to this whole episode and I can understand that you are feeling so annoyed that it all seems to be taking so long. I would imaging though that unravelling 23 years of fraud and tracing where all the money went would be no easy job! Especially as your sorry excuse for an aunt and uncle would likely have hidden money over all of those years.
Reading you had gone back to your old room and stayed there for the first time since your parents died had me in tears. I hope that you are finding some comfort at least being back in the home you grew up in.
Keep strong, you have been through so much it is no wonder that it still hurts. Hope that everything gets sorted as soon as possible so you are able to try and move on from the awful deceit that your despicable aunt and uncle have put you through.

catherinea1971 Tue 31-Jan-12 13:57:27

Sorry just read your op again, looks like we are the same age, I'm another with a sluggish brain from not enough use.
Hope that your college course is going well. What are you hoping to study at uni?

igivein Wed 01-Feb-12 10:46:51

Hi Zeebrugge
Thanks for updating, yours is the only thread I have on my watch list, and I've been waiting for you to come back.
Sorry things aren't progressing quickly, I think when your aunt and uncle skipped bail they should have had it revoked and been remanded in custody (I bet that would have helped your uncle's memory no end!).
Good luck with the college course, your Mum and Dad would be really proud of you.

LeBOF Fri 03-Feb-12 15:00:53

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RealitySickOfSick Fri 03-Feb-12 15:10:54

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Maryz Fri 03-Feb-12 15:27:11

I just want to congratulate LeBof on her sterling work today grin

ArtexMonkey Fri 03-Feb-12 16:46:55

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LeBOF Fri 03-Feb-12 16:57:47

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ArtexMonkey Fri 03-Feb-12 17:01:13

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LeBOF Fri 03-Feb-12 17:03:06

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LeBOF Fri 03-Feb-12 17:04:07

I suppose I did have a concernedmother though.

ArtexMonkey Fri 03-Feb-12 17:04:35

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ArtexMonkey Fri 03-Feb-12 17:05:45

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LeBOF Fri 03-Feb-12 17:10:42


PluckyButtocks Fri 03-Feb-12 17:13:28

I am going to DESTROY the boards with this name, Artex, thank you do much grin

RealitySickOfSick Fri 03-Feb-12 17:19:04

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ArtexMonkey Fri 03-Feb-12 17:28:56

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Maryz Fri 03-Feb-12 17:31:28

<whispers - I thought you all might be amused to know that I got a reply from mumsnet hq which apologised for the mass mail grin. Obviously they have been getting a few communications today>


RealitySickOfSick Fri 03-Feb-12 17:55:26

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PluckyButtocks Fri 03-Feb-12 17:58:30

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Maryz Fri 03-Feb-12 18:50:21

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RealitySickOfSick Fri 03-Feb-12 18:57:22

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<sounds closing credits>

QueenOfFeckingEverything Fri 03-Feb-12 20:31:04

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Portofino Fri 03-Feb-12 20:41:05

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PluckyButtocks Fri 03-Feb-12 20:46:27

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Maryz Fri 03-Feb-12 20:57:16

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RealitySickOfSick Fri 03-Feb-12 21:00:38

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Maryz Fri 03-Feb-12 21:07:30

It would be nice to think there was only one ........

QueenOfFeckingEverything Fri 03-Feb-12 21:08:22

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BelaLug0si Fri 03-Feb-12 22:11:32

Now you've set me off searching, how long did finding that lot take, or is it all on The Spreadsheet (TM)?

Maryz Fri 03-Feb-12 23:24:02

Do you realise that 18 out of the last 25 or so posts have been deleted.

That must surely be some sort of record.

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 03-Feb-12 23:45:35

This is freaky - I went on the Bereavement board tonight (don't usually, but had had some sad news earlier). I clicked on one thread and thought, oooh, this style looks very familiar, did a quick search on MN and re-read some of the original posts here, thought, yup, and asked MN. I now see you've been having a delete-fest here, while I've been most, err, disorganised.

Or am I missing the boat and being a bit thick and unkind?

PluckyButtocks Fri 03-Feb-12 23:47:30


Portofino Sat 04-Feb-12 00:26:58

MrsS - yes it is easy ti MISS the point and get disorganised.

Portofino Sat 04-Feb-12 00:32:44

Actually - I am still upset with OP having lost people I knew and parents of friends at Zeebrugge. And it had a huge ongoing effect on people working on the ferries. MNHQ - I know you can't prove anything at all - but it would not hurt even the OP if this thread disappeared....

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Mon 06-Feb-12 00:14:37

Crikey! Was there a bunfight? <<surveys wreckage of thread>>

loopylou6 Mon 06-Feb-12 13:30:32

Just read this, what's with the deletions? Is op a bridge dweller?

prh47bridge Mon 06-Feb-12 15:36:47

It seems some people are convinced the OP is making the whole thing up. I don't know the basis for this belief although it appears to be based, at least in part, on alleged similarities with the style of one or more other posters. If the OP is telling the truth she will have found the deleted posts quite insulting.

DexterTheCat Mon 06-Feb-12 19:23:47

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Portofino Mon 06-Feb-12 19:34:10

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SaggyOldClothCatPuss Mon 06-Feb-12 19:53:31

I don't see why it shouldn't be real. There seem to be an awful lot of lawyers ^^ up there, who seem convinced. I haven't read anything that shouts troll.

Maryz Mon 06-Feb-12 20:01:04

Aha, Saggy, but have you inspected the lawyers closely?

Not naming prh, by the way, but there are few further up whose posting history is interesting.

Portofino Tue 07-Feb-12 06:12:04

The aunt and uncle have been living off Op's money for 23 years apparently - including the highlife in France - after surrending their passports. And they have ALREADY (within weeks of being caught) handed over a sum of cash more than 6 years wortth of Op's dh's oilrig earnings. Now the op has moved back to the distinctly average family home - mortgage paid off. How much insurance did these people have? Why were the accounts not frozen? Where were SS? Normally there should be another trustee? Where was op when her parents went off to Zeebrugge? Where had they been? The ferry was coming from Belgium that night. As a minor, no way would she have just been handed over without the authorities being involved.

RealitySickOfSick Tue 07-Feb-12 06:41:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

prh47bridge Tue 07-Feb-12 10:24:36

There are obvious answers to some of your questions. For example, the OP would have been 15 or 16 when her parents went to Zeebrugge. Many of those involved in the disaster were on a day trip through a promotion organised by The Sun. I don't find it particularly hard to believe that the parents may have gone on this day trip leaving the OP to look after herself for a day. Some of your other questions also have obvious answers but I would agree that some do not.

I have no idea whether the OP is telling the truth or not. It may be that those who allege she is posting under multiple identities are correct. I generally take posts on here at face value. Maybe that means I get suckered sometimes.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Tue 07-Feb-12 10:56:12

If the Op was sock puppeting, hq would know surely! They are pretty quick to delete usually? Or are we saying that each SP post was sent from a different sock puppet address? And I know that he whole story is a bit strange, but you only have to read the newspapers to see that weird stuff happens everyday! People go through hell right under our noses all the time!
She started this thread in 2010, and it's still here. Plenty of time for HQ to investigate, surely?

QueenOfFeckingEverything Tue 07-Feb-12 11:45:28

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Maryz Tue 07-Feb-12 16:48:05

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Maryz Tue 07-Feb-12 16:49:40

I know my above post will be deleted because I have named names. I don't wish to cause any hurt to anyone, but I also agree with Reality.

Portofino Tue 07-Feb-12 18:42:16

Maryz - I agree totally. I worry that money has changed hands and that PMs are going on behind the scenes....not necessarily on this thread.....

Portofino Tue 07-Feb-12 18:56:03

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Haberdashery Tue 07-Feb-12 19:38:15

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Portofino Tue 07-Feb-12 20:14:04


ArtexMonkey Tue 07-Feb-12 20:22:21

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ArtexMonkey Tue 07-Feb-12 20:25:02

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QueenOfFeckingEverything Tue 07-Feb-12 20:27:09

Gosh Artex, you are good [admiring]

QueenOfFeckingEverything Tue 07-Feb-12 20:35:13

The 'real' names used are all really dated (70s?), as well. Its all Pam and Derek from down the road hmm

Levantine Tue 07-Feb-12 20:39:01

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Portofino Tue 07-Feb-12 20:42:00


QueenOfFeckingEverything Tue 07-Feb-12 20:44:28

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ArtexMonkey Tue 07-Feb-12 20:50:08


<needs a life>

Haberdashery Tue 07-Feb-12 21:05:04

Goodness, Artex. Admirably thorough.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Tue 07-Feb-12 21:06:51

Ok, you are probably right, but you have pointed out 16 possible versions o the same poster. For Mn to have no evidence, presumably each one is posted from a different IP address, and the hairy toed one has to manage this, and remember which name goes with which IP address. That's a big job!!

RealitySickOfSick Tue 07-Feb-12 21:09:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Portofino Tue 07-Feb-12 21:11:56

It is possible to have a dynamic IP address - one that changes every time - but probably MNHQ have never been asked to compare all those posters before. MNHQ have a nearly impossible job here.

ArtexMonkey Tue 07-Feb-12 21:18:11

You can also use a proxy server to anonymise your ip address. You could have say three tabs open, each logged in to mn via a different proxy server and it would look from this end like three completely different people posing from completely different parts of the world.

Maryz Tue 07-Feb-12 21:22:37

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Maryz Tue 07-Feb-12 21:24:55

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Haberdashery Tue 07-Feb-12 21:28:32

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ArtexMonkey Tue 07-Feb-12 21:37:08

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SaggyOldClothCatPuss Tue 07-Feb-12 21:50:59

Ok, just goes to show that I don't know much about IP addresses! confused

Portofino Tue 07-Feb-12 23:37:14

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Penandink Wed 08-Feb-12 08:55:25

Surely any net-savvy reader would know that the percentage of genuine messages in most of the site sections is close to zero. Where does the assumption come from that Mumsnet is exempt from the problem of trolls and the like that’s endemic elsewhere.

The local writers group of which I am a mere humble functionary introduced members to Mumsnet to encourage flash fiction entries in the annual competition. It was some time before I even realised that the messages I was reading were supposed to be genuine.

Haberdashery Wed 08-Feb-12 09:23:00

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QueenOfFeckingEverything Wed 08-Feb-12 09:42:54

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Levantine Wed 08-Feb-12 10:11:11

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Penandink Wed 08-Feb-12 10:36:05

Haberdashery - Name changing hardly accounts as an advanced skill. I would be prepared to bet that most posters here have had more than one user name either consecutively or concurrently.
I'm just sitting here shocked that Levantine is somehow expecting Mumsnet to be different from the rest of cyberspace. Why do you think so many groups are moderated or by invitation only or simply known and accepted by users for what they are?
Please, please tell me that you don't believe most of the postings on Relationships any more than you would believe what gets posted on Yahoo. "I caught my daughter with a dildo, what should I do" or the "true stories" (misery lit) on offer in Waterstones.

ArtexMonkey Wed 08-Feb-12 12:39:02

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Portofino Wed 08-Feb-12 15:22:23

I am amazed there are so many of them!

Maryz Wed 08-Feb-12 18:23:44

I wonder has BoF seen this thread - she would enjoy it.

LeBOF Wed 08-Feb-12 18:42:24

I missed it all grin

Yes, right up my street...

Maryz Wed 08-Feb-12 18:44:21

Thought you would like it grin

Portofino Wed 08-Feb-12 18:49:07

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LeBOF Wed 08-Feb-12 18:49:14

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Portofino Wed 08-Feb-12 18:50:19

I really must start a spreadsheet.....

I cut and pasted for future reference.

Thank you, observant ones.

LeBOF Wed 08-Feb-12 19:00:02

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SaggyOldClothCatPuss Wed 08-Feb-12 20:06:44

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PrincessFiorimonde Wed 08-Feb-12 21:23:34

My head spins a bit at all this info, as I can never understand why anyone might want to build such elaborate tales here.
<simpleton emoticon>

I do understand why people get upset and call this kind of posting "emotional vampiricism".

On the other hand, I also wonder about the original posters behind all these threads, especially those who describe sudden deaths in family/having difficult times in foster care. Maybe a kernel of truth lies behind these extraordinary stories? Or maybe it's all just attention seeking? Who knows?

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Maryz Wed 08-Feb-12 21:27:25

I am sure there are kernels of truth Princess.

And if they want to write a novel, or a cathartic blog, then that's fine.

But to post on here on the bereavement board and pretend to be a grieving mother who has lost a child, or someone who has lost a parent or sibling, and then make up all kinds of shite to get others to share their most traumatic experiences; well, in my opinion, they have crossed a line and are no longer worthy of sympathy.

It is pretty revolting Maryz. But then I believe the sort of people who write misery porn are generally emotional vampires too. The poster/posters are trying out story lines to see whether they appear authentic enough to pass as non-fiction and we fall for them, or whether they are too far-fectched and implausible and we call troll. They are also trying to obtain detailed information from genuine victims.

PrincessFiorimonde Wed 08-Feb-12 21:47:41

Maryz, I do see your point, and I'm really not seeking to defend anyone who has upset anyone else, especially people on the bereavement board.

Portofino Wed 08-Feb-12 22:51:54

Penandink maybe had it above "The local writers group of which I am a mere humble functionary introduced members to Mumsnet to encourage flash fiction entries in the annual competition. It was some time before I even realised that the messages I was reading were supposed to be genuine."

That certain people aren't EVEN emotional vampires - they are just crap writers who have the germ of an idea and get MNetters to flesh it out with personal view points, inputs on technical ie legal knowledge, and personal stories. Not vampires, who get off on this stuff, but people who are totally detached from what is written as they consider if it makes a good story or not. Like DM journalists for example....

Portofino Wed 08-Feb-12 22:55:27

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LeBOF Wed 08-Feb-12 22:58:53

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PrincessFiorimonde Wed 08-Feb-12 23:10:06

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PrincessFiorimonde Wed 08-Feb-12 23:13:40

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LeBOF Wed 08-Feb-12 23:21:18

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PrincessFiorimonde Wed 08-Feb-12 23:28:03

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LeBOF Wed 08-Feb-12 23:48:29

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CervixWithASmile Thu 09-Feb-12 08:01:22

It's like a Lesley Pearse novel...

Maryz Thu 09-Feb-12 08:10:35

... but badly written grin

CervixWithASmile Thu 09-Feb-12 08:30:50


QueenOfFeckingEverything Thu 09-Feb-12 08:40:41

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Penandink Thu 09-Feb-12 08:47:17

Are you the librarian? I want to complain. These books are full of things that are not true! It's a disgrace, what a load of emotional vampires!

Madam - this is the fiction section of the library.

It is just the same on Mumsnet. I have to ask you again why do you expect Mumsnet to be any different from the rest of cyberspace? Or different from the real world? Do you believe everything said to you by family and friends or every article you read in the newspapers?

If you wonder into the fiction section of Mumsnet don't act all suprised when you read fiction!

I can see that some of you get really upset or cross with what other people post. "... I suppose it could be a warped creative writing exercise from some narcissist with no ethics. LeBOF, its not a matter of ethics. If you read posting after posting that reads like an entry to "first steps in creative writing" what has happened was a sure fire certainty.

LeBOF Thu 09-Feb-12 08:55:35

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RealitySickOfSick Thu 09-Feb-12 09:06:03

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Maryz Thu 09-Feb-12 09:09:21

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ShirleyO Thu 09-Feb-12 09:34:03

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Maryz Thu 09-Feb-12 09:36:18

I suspect mn hq are practising selective blindness grin

But sadly I also suspect someone will report soon and it will go.

LeBOF Thu 09-Feb-12 09:37:07

'Walks', Shirley? That was a saunter, if ever I saw one grin

ShirleyO Thu 09-Feb-12 09:38:42

Haha! Yes it was a saunter

I was chewing gum as well and twirling a big truncheon.

<bends at knees>

Allo, Allo, Allo, What 'ave we 'ere then?

Portofino Thu 09-Feb-12 09:40:27

Penandink, are you trying to say that because people make stuff up on the internet, that it is FINE for twisted fucks to go onto a bereavement board and make up stories for their own entertainment, in a place where genuinely bereaved parents try to support each other at the worst point in their lives?

You think this is acceptable?

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Maryz Thu 09-Feb-12 09:43:59

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ShirleyO Thu 09-Feb-12 09:45:13

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QueenOfFeckingEverything Thu 09-Feb-12 09:46:19

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