PIty Saffron Drewitt-Barlow. It’s hard enough being a teenager, navigating relationships, friendships and life in general as it is. Imagine what it must be like finding yourself, at this tricky age, thrown into the centre of a very complicated love triangle, one that reaches into the very heart of your family life.
Imagine watching the person everyone believes is your boyfriend fall in love with someone else. Then imagine how it must feel when that ‘someone else’ just happens to be your own father.
Somehow, Saffron manages to sit back and smile as this new happy couple declare their love for each other, and talk of their plans for a baby together. And all this is happening while her other dad, someone she loves deeply, is terminally ill, living out his final days in a separate wing of the family home nearby.
Barrie and Tony Drewitt-Barlow, pictured centre with their children, from left, Orlando, Saffron, Dallas, Jasper and Aspen, made history when they became to first gay couple to be legally allowed to have a surrogate child
Wait, there is more. Saffron also has to contend with the fact that this entire scenario is being shared with the world via Instagram posts, television documentaries and newspaper reports.
There is no hiding for Saffron, teenage daughter of Britain’s first two gay dads, Barrie Drewitt-Barlow and his now desperately ill husband Tony.
There never really has been.
When Barrie, 51, fell in love with Scott Hutchison, the 25-year-old Saffron was supposed to be dating, the news was shared with the world. Poor Saffron can’t even sulk and wait for the fuss to die down. That really isn’t this family’s style.
No wonder the 19-year-old doesn’t sound thrilled, or convincing, when asked how she feels about it all. ‘As long as they’re happy, I’m not bothered,’ she shrugs, gesturing to her father Barrie and his new love, Scott.
Isn’t she pleased Barrie is planning to add to the family (Saffron has four brothers — one her twin — all conceived via surrogates)?
The new couple have said they’d like a little girl, which could give Saffron a baby sister. She isn’t thrilled about that, either.
‘He’s too old,’ she says bluntly, of her father, who met his new lover when Scott was a teenager.
‘And I’d rather be the only girl.’
Saffron, pictured centre, along with her father Barrie, right, and her ex boyfriend and Barrie’s new partner Scott Hutchinson, left,
As endorsements go, it’s not generous. At the £5 million family home in Florida, the sun shines on the swimming pool, set amid lawns studded with American oaks, manicured flower beds and two ponds with fountains.
Yet you can feel the tension crackle between father and daughter, even if Barrie seems unruffled by Saffron’s reaction. ‘I don’t care what she thinks. She’s a moody mare,’ he says airily.
Welcome to the latest controversy to hit Britain’s most unusual family, a clan who can sometimes make the Kardashians look calm and well adjusted. Millionaire Barrie Drewitt-Barlow and his husband Tony first found fame in 1999 after becoming the first same-sex couple in the UK to be formally registered as parents.
The fabulously wealthy couple, who became civil partners in 2006 and married in 2014, have five children by surrogates: Saffron and her twin brother Aspen are the eldest, then there’s Orlando, 16, followed by twins Jasper and Dallas, who are nine.
Though surrogacy is now more commonplace among gay parents — Sir Elton John and David Furnish have two sons aged eight and six, while diver Tom Daley and his husband Dustin Lance Black have a one-year-old boy — Barrie and Tony were early pioneers in the field.
They had been together for 11 years before deciding to become fathers, first looking at adoption with Essex County Council when they lived in England. In 1999 they fathered Saffron and Aspen with a surrogate mother from California.
In recent years, the Drewitt-Barlow family’s lives have been chronicled on reality TV shows and in the media. The couple, who lived in Hertfordshire but relocated to the U.S. in 2014, are said to be worth around £40 million and make their money through two businesses — a research company in New Jersey that tests consumer products and a surrogacy centre in Beverly Hills.
The family hit the headlines again a few weeks ago after revealing Barrie had fallen for Scott, who had been his personal assistant. Not only is there a 26-year age difference between them, but Barrie is still married to Tony, who was diagnosed with throat cancer ten years ago and lives in a wing of the mansion where he needs round-the-clock medical care
The family hit the headlines again a few weeks ago after revealing Barrie had fallen for Scott, who had been his personal assistant. Not only is there a 26-year age difference between them, but Barrie is still married to Tony, who was diagnosed with throat cancer ten years ago and lives in a wing of the mansion where he needs round-the-clock medical care.
For a while, it was reported that Scott was in a relationship with Saffron before he became an item with Barrie. But today, they all insist that was not the case. The phoney relationship was cooked up by the youngsters as a smokescreen, because Scott was not yet ready to come out as a gay man.
‘If there had been something going on between Scott and Saffron, there might have been tension, but there wasn’t,’ says Barrie, who adds that he also thought the scheme would be a handy ploy to keep gold-diggers away from Saffron.
His feelings for Scott came much later, he says, and took him totally by surprise. It might sound monstrously complicated to outsiders, but it’s par for the course in the mad world of the Drewitt-Barlows. Tangled relationships aside, the next eye-popping element is the opulence of their lifestyle.
For a while, it was reported that Scott was in a relationship with Saffron before he became an item with Barrie. But today, they all insist that was not the case. The phoney relationship was cooked up by the youngsters as a smokescreen, because Scott was not yet ready to come out as a gay man
The main house sits in ten acres of grounds and has 11 bedrooms and 13 bathrooms, a den and a library. In the kitchen, a chef is preparing lunch while outside there is a lavish entertaining area with a swimming pool, spa and grotto. There’s also a large guest house and a battalion of flash cars in the driveway, including a Range Rover, Mercedes and the £135,000 Shelby sports car that Barrie recently bought for Scott.
We talk at a table in the poolside area. Saffron is wearing a snakeskin patterned mini-dress that shows off a flower tattoo on her breastbone. She also wears a pair of Gucci loafers, presumably bought from her £5,000 a month allowance. Barrie spots them for the first time.
‘How much did they cost?’ he asks. ‘A thousand, two thousand?’ shrugs Saffron, who is heavily made-up and has recently had her lips enlarged.
Barrie rolls his eyes affectionately. He is equally flashily attired in a Prada white dinner jacket, with Valentino shoes and lots of diamonds. He’s openly affectionate with Scott, calling him ‘babe,’ and patting his bottom.
Scott said that Saffron, pictured, is the best friend anyone could have
Missing from this picture of domestic harmony is Tony. Barrie’s 55-year-old husband is now gravely ill, mostly from the consequences of aggressive treatments to combat cancer. He underwent an operation to transplant a bone from his leg onto his jaw and has also lost the use of his salivary glands.
‘We were joking with him, to keep his spirits up, that he’s literally walking around with his foot in his mouth,’ says Barrie. ‘He’s very diminished. He’s confused because of the medication for the pain. We’re waiting to see if his operation in January is successful.’
Contrary to reports, they are not getting a divorce, even if Barrie and Scott sleep in the left wing while Tony sleeps in the right.
This might seem callous, but Barrie and Scott insist that it was Tony who pushed them together. ‘Tony’s never been a jealous man and he could see me and Scott were very close,’ says Barrie. ‘He told me, “I’d feel comfortable if you two ended up together if anything ever happened to me”.
‘I thought it was the medication talking, but Tony and I haven’t had a physical relationship for years, and he started to bring it into the conversation a lot.”
This might seem callous, but Barrie and Scott insist that it was Tony who pushed them together. ‘Tony’s never been a jealous man and he could see me and Scott were very close,’ says Barrie. ‘He told me, “I’d feel comfortable if you two ended up together if anything ever happened to me”. ‘I thought it was the medication talking, but Tony and I haven’t had a physical relationship for years, and he started to bring it into the conversation a lot.”
Barrie and Scott met in 2013 back in Essex when the then 19-year-old applied for a job as Barrie’s personal assistant.
‘I was in bad shape before I met Barrie,’ Scott recalls. ‘I was 18 and working in a bar as a topless waiter, working for tips. I was on drugs and felt like I was letting everybody down, especially my mum. I couldn’t afford rent. I couldn’t even get a job at Domino’s Pizza. That’s how bad it was.
‘I lied on my CV, saying I’d got a B in maths. They gave me a test and I flunked every answer.’
Things were so awful, he says, he tried to commit suicide. ‘I went to a park in Harlow and I tried to hang myself. I thought I’d done a good job, but when I jumped, the branch snapped straight off.’
Two months later, Scott applied for the job with Barrie. ‘I didn’t have any experience, but I thought, “How hard can it be to answer a phone?” ’ he says. Barrie paid for a 12-week placement in rehab. ‘He was so young, I thought he deserved another chance.’ There were other reasons behind his successful interview: ‘I employed him because I knew any PA of mine would be on screen (in the television shows) and he was a bit of eye candy around the office,’ says Barrie.
‘But there was no sexual element between me and Scott at all. Not that I didn’t want there to be, I thought he was gorgeous. But I didn’t go there.’
Both men only admitted their attraction for each other 18 months ago, they claim.
Barrie’s mind became focused on the future after one of Tony’s major operations. ‘I got very upset. It opened my eyes, it made me realise that you’ve got to grab opportunities while you can. So I did,’ he says, and laughs.
As for Saffron, she seems in no rush for children, unlike her father and former ‘boyfriend’. ‘No. Ï want to be a businesswoman and build a company then sell it,’ she says, referring to her skincare and make-up brand called Barking Mad Cosmetics
‘Scott and I had a proper date night at a steakhouse in Tampa. Tony set the whole thing up. He even booked the table and gave us his driver. Away from the house and kids we were able to speak properly to each other for the first time. We had a heart-to-heart about our true feelings.
‘If Scott and I were going to have a relationship, I wasn’t going to do it behind Tony’s and the kids’ backs. I know Scott was worried about people knowing he was gay, but it was either going to be the whole shebang or nothing.’
‘Everyone’s taken it really well,’ says Scott. ‘Me and Barrie have travelled the world together. We spend 24 hours a day with each other, we know each other better than anyone else. I know what he likes and what he hates.’
‘He hates simple things, like crisp packets. So if anyone is near him with crisps, I move them away as fast as I can. I don’t want anyone to annoy Barrie. I try to keep as much pressure off him as I can.’
It certainly sounds like the behaviour of a diligent personal assistant, but what are Scott’s feelings about his former boss now he is his boyfriend? ‘This is my first relationship with a man,’ he says. ‘My best mate has turned into my soul mate. I’m happier than I’ve ever been, 100 per cent happy.’
Does he feel guilty about Tony, lying alone upstairs? ‘No. Tony’s one of my best friends and I love him. He’s all for us,’ he replies. The ruse that he and Saffron were a couple was used because Scott had not come out to his mother Amanda, a housewife, and father Nigel, a railway worker, who still live in Essex.
‘Saffron is the best friend anyone could have,’ says Scott.
‘She played along. It took the pressure off.’
Barrie and Scott’s relationship has been an open secret in their U.S.-based family circle for some time, they say. However, the two men returned to the UK a few weeks ago to break the news to Scott’s parents that not only were they a couple but they planned to have a baby, too.
‘It was a hard conversation because Scott’s dad is the same age as me,’ recalls Barrie.
‘His mum said “Say that again?” but now they’re over the moon. She’s buying things for the baby already.’
‘I’ve always wanted to expand my family and Scott’s always wanted at least one child so we got talking and before you knew it, we were booking flights to Beverly Hills and getting tests done.’
The baby will be born via his own clinic, of course.
‘We’ve chosen our egg donor. We’ve already created the embryos. I fertilised half the eggs and Scott fertilised the other half. And we‘ve done a sex-selection process to pick out what embryos are male and what are female and from that we’ll impregnate the surrogate.’
The couple will implant two female embryos. ‘If we get twins —great, but as long as we get at least one, that’s all we care about,’ says Barrie. Their surrogate is a 32-year-old woman from San Diego who already has her own family.
Scott and Barrie have already chosen their egg donor and have each fertilised half of the eggs which will be impregnated into the surrogate mother
‘She’s going in for the transfer in mid-December so maybe we’ll get some good news before Christmas,’ offers Barrie. That would mean they would be the next set of dads in the family by August or September 2020.
‘Scott’s going to be a great dad, I’m 100 per cent committed to him and I’m excited about the relationship we’re going to have in the future as parents,’ says Barrie.
‘I’m ready to be a dad. I want this child,’ adds Scott.
Barrie confirms that despite this, there are no plans to formally split from Tony or divorce him. ‘I’m sticking with Tony through his illness and Scott has no problem with that. But I’m 100 per cent committed to Scott and we will get married in the future.’
As for Saffron, she seems in no rush for children, unlike her father and former ‘boyfriend’.
‘No. Ï want to be a businesswoman and build a company then sell it,’ she says, referring to her skincare and make-up brand called Barking Mad Cosmetics.
The company, which sells serums, macaron-shaped soaps and an £8 lip plumper, actually lists Scott on its website as founder and chief executive officer, though Saffron is the driving force behind the brand — and clearly an enthusiastic devotee of the plumper.
‘If Kylie can do it, so can I,’ she says, referring to Kylie Jenner of Kardashian family fame, who claims to be a self-made billionairess via her eponymous cosmetic company. ‘So no, I don’t want children right now,’ she scowls.
Who could blame her?