Had it not been for the joys of the internet, Georgie David might never have crossed paths with dashing Old Etonian James Reeve.
The pair met online in February 2017 after stumbling, virtually, across each other via mutual Facebook friends.
Georgie, 34, a legal aide from London, agreed to a date with James, 37, who owns a polo club on his family’s Lincolnshire estate. After dinner at swanky Beaufort House in Chelsea, their relationship became sexual and, over the next six months, James became a regular visitor to Georgie’s nearby rented flat.
So far, so straightforward.
But, in the summer of 2017, Georgie discovered she was pregnant and relations between the couple soured when she said she was keeping the baby.
‘I’ve been abandoned and now I’m being treated like a fallen woman,’ she tells me at her tiny ground-floor studio flat just off the King’s Road in Chelsea.
‘I have never asked for any financial support for myself, only for our son.’
While she says her ex-lover is refusing to contribute towards the upkeep of their eight-month-old son, Henry, James Reeve claims to be a victim of ‘entrapment’ and says he wants nothing to do with Georgie or the baby.
Georgina David with her son Henry David-Reeve, 8 months. Miss David claims his father wanted her to have an abortion
Georgina says her ex-lover is refusing to contribute towards the upkeep of their eight-month-old son, Henry
Georgie, 34, a legal aide from London, began dating James, 37, who owns a polo club on his family’s Lincolnshire estate
Despite being owner of Leadenham Polo Club and a schoolboy contemporary of Prince William, Reeve has been assessed as unable to pay child maintenance because of the ‘modest’ income he receives from his family.
In a letter from a solicitor acting on his behalf, the Edinburgh University graduate, whose ancestor fought alongside the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo, accuses Georgie of going back on her promise to terminate the unexpected pregnancy and of lying about taking the contraceptive pill.
Georgie denies both claims, but the row has even caught the eye of senior Church of England clergy after it emerged that James’s mother, Henrietta, who also wants no contact with her grandson, was appointed a lay canon at Lincoln Cathedral just a month before Henry’s birth.
Divorcee Mrs Reeve, 62, became the subject of a church investigation after Georgie’s priest, the Rector at St Luke’s in Chelsea, wrote to the Bishop of Lincoln saying she came under great pressure from the Reeve family — ‘Mrs Reeve in particular’ — to have an abortion.
In a written response to that claim, the Bishop of Grantham said that while ‘Miss David came under great pressure’, there was no evidence that Mrs Reeve, who is also Deputy Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, was involved.
A morally muddled saga then, and one which raises questions about sex, relationships and responsibility in this modern age of dating.
Who, then, should be blamed for this sorry situation? And, above all, what does the future hold for the golden-haired, blue-eyed baby boy at the heart of it?
Henry James Frederick David-Reeve, who shares both his parents’ surnames is, somewhat ironically, the spitting image of the handsome father he has never met.
James Reeve accuses Georgie of going back on her promise to terminate the unexpected pregnancy and of lying about taking the contraceptive pill
Divorcee Henrietta Reeve, 62, became the subject of a church investigation after Georgie’s priest, the Rector at St Luke’s in Chelsea, wrote to the Bishop of Lincoln saying she came under great pressure from the Reeve family — ‘Mrs Reeve in particular’ — to have an abortion
‘It’s for Henry’s sake that I’m speaking out about this,’ says Georgie, cradling her son.
‘He wasn’t planned, but the fact is that we have a beautiful baby boy and he deserves to have the best chance in life. I am struggling to cope financially, and I just want James to accept some responsibility for his son.’
James Reeve sees things rather differently. A letter sent to Georgie by his solicitor says: ‘You entered a relationship with him which was meant to be entirely casual, with no commitment at all.’
Meanwhile, Georgie has been receiving emotional support from a most unlikely quarter — James’s elder brother, William, who is heir to the family estate. He has not only been to visit his nephew but also became his godfather when Henry was christened in September.
He hit the news himself this week after he collapsed in court as he launched a battle with his mother over the future of their family’s 230-year-old country estate.
Old Etonian William, 38, says the future of the 18th-century Leadenham estate is at risk due to a bitter family row, not helped by the situation between James and Georgie.
Meanwhile, Georgie remains hurt and angry at the way she has been treated. While she doesn’t deny the relationship was casual at first, she argues that she and James began to see each other regularly — at least every week — and their romance became more than just physical.
‘We used to take my dog for walks together and go out for long lunches and dinners. Or I cooked for us here. Sometimes we used to get a takeaway and a bottle of wine and just lie in front of the television. He brought flowers. We became close. It started to feel more serious. We opened up to each other about our lives.’
And what different lives they are.
Georgie, the daughter of a Pakistani-born father and British mother, was raised in a terrace house in South-east London and attended an all-girls’ state school. She studied media at the University of Buckingham, but left before finishing her degree and worked as a VIP nightclub hostess at Chinawhite in Soho.
In her early 20s, she began work as a secretary at a barristers’ chambers in central London, moved to Chelsea and joined a ladies’ shooting club in West London.
James, meanwhile, is one of four children born to Peter and Henrietta Reeve, and grew up enjoying all the privileges that life in a family with a lineage stretching back to Edward III can offer — including 20-bedroom Grade II-listed Leadenham House on the family’s 3,000-acre estate. He attended Eton and after university, returned to the estate to pursue his love of polo.
Despite living at Leadenham House James Reeve has been assessed as unable to make child maintenance payments
Mr Reeve (pictured), the son of Lincoln Cathedral’s lay Canon who is accused of encouraging Miss David to have an abortion
Georgie insists she is no gold-digger and had no idea just how wealthy James was when she met him. ‘He’s actually quite scruffy,’ she says. ‘I bought him socks on two occasions because his had holes in.’
Claims that she tricked him into getting her pregnant are rebutted.
‘The accusation that I lied about being on the Pill or that I deliberately didn’t take it is ridiculous. The only person who can possibly know if I took it is me, and I know I took it.’
Nevertheless, in June 2017 a home test revealed she was pregnant. At first, she says, James took the news calmly. He travelled from Lincolnshire and the pair attended an NHS clinic in North London offering pregnancy counselling and abortion services.
She admits that at this stage, she was ready to consider a termination. ‘I was only five weeks pregnant and it seemed the sensible thing to do,’ she explains. But before they had the chance to discuss it, medical events swiftly overtook them.
This dramatically impacted her feelings about the pregnancy.
First, a scan suggested Georgie was suffering from an ectopic pregnancy — a potentially fatal condition. She was sent to A&E at the Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead, where she was monitored until it became clear the pregnancy was not ectopic and she was suffering from a harmless cyst in her fallopian tube.
‘It was a very stressful situation because it could have impacted my future fertility,’ she says. ‘James was wonderful, perfect in every way. He cuddled me and reassured me.’
When she was discharged three days later, she returned home to find he had cleaned her flat and put fresh flowers in a vase.
Soon after, they returned to the pregnancy advice clinic, again planning to speak to a counsellor about the possibility of a termination, but after another scan, Georgie was told she had suffered a ‘missed miscarriage’ — where an embryo dies but is not immediately expelled by the body. Medical advice for women suffering the condition in the first three months of pregnancy is to allow nature to take its course.
Given that both she and James believed the pregnancy was over, she says, there was no longer any need to discuss a termination. Instead, they went away for a weekend to help her get over the ordeal, staying at the Victoria Inn hotel in Holkham, Norfolk.
‘He was really lovely to me at that time,’ she says.
But at a check-up at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in August 2017, Georgie was given the jaw-dropping news that she hadn’t miscarried at all. She was 13 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby.
‘It was the last thing I expected,’ she says. ‘I could see a heartbeat. I was overwhelmed that after everything that had happened, here was a perfect little baby.’
She phoned James to break the news. ‘He was completely shocked,’ she says. ‘I asked if he wanted to see the scan photos and he said that he didn’t, that it was too much for him to take in. He said he needed to speak to his mother.
‘I understood that he was overwhelmed.’
She claims she then had a call from Mrs Reeve. ‘During the conversation, she said James wouldn’t stand by me. She said that I should be aware that he wouldn’t be inheriting anything. There was no reasoning with her. She upset me so much that I hung up.’
After that, she says, she and James maintained contact by phone but relations between them were ‘not the same as before. He wanted me to have an abortion but after everything that had happened and then seeing the scan, I felt very differently. I felt very pressurised by him and his family’
The last time she saw James was at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Georgie says it became clear he still expected her to terminate the pregnancy.
‘He kept coming in and out of the room on his phone and then he just disappeared and didn’t come back. That was the last time I saw him. It was such a brutal way to be left.’
When Georgie wrote to James, telling him she had to ‘decide what’s best for our baby’, she received an email from his solicitor telling her: ‘He does not wish to have any contact with you now or in the future. However, he remains willing to support you financially with the previous plan to have a termination. Any financial payment would need to be through me.’
Further strongly worded legal letters followed. One sent in October 2017 reads: ‘Frankly, our client feels that he was entrapped by you . . . Our client has only ever wanted to have children in the context of a loving, stable and long-term relationship and clearly that was not the nature of the relationship he had with you. Our client has no intention of having any involvement with your child.’
James Reeve has claimed he is a victim of ‘entrapment’ who is not paid enough to make child maintenance payments
Extraordinarily, a solicitor’s letter was even sent to Georgie’s widowed mother stating: ‘Reports through third parties have led our client to be concerned for Georgie’s mental state.’
It continued: ‘He felt that it was necessary to put on record his own position so that you know how best to help her.’ Henry was born on March 5, 2018 and Georgie texted James to say he was welcome to visit at the hospital, but she received no response. Requests to meet via a legal mediation service were also rejected.
After she turned to the Government’s Child Maintenance Service, James complied with instructions to pay her £407.71. According to his solicitor, a further review by the CMS showed ‘he lacked a current salary and was only in receipt of a modest income from his family’. The CMS does not consider assets, but the Department for Work and Pensions, which oversees the service, is monitoring the case.
And it is clear that Georgie is not going to go away quietly. When the Rector of St Luke’s wrote to the Bishop of Lincoln in August, he asked for an investigation into the ‘pastorally unacceptable situation which has clear safeguarding implications’.
Writing back a month later, the Bishop of Grantham said an investigation had concluded ‘this is not a safeguarding matter’.
Georgina with her son at the Hurlingham Club. Miss David claims she was made pregnant by James Reeve – polo-playing Old Etonian son of Lincoln Cathedral’s lay Canon
Miss David met Mr Reeve in 2017 and the pair quickly began dating but she fell pregnant
In the letter, copies of which were sent to both Georgie and Mrs Reeve, he added that: ‘Mrs Reeve does not deny the existence of Henry, though she has no relationship with him and does not want one,’ and said discussions had been held with Mrs Reeve ‘about how she might pray for Henry and perhaps in some future time be able to relate to him in some way that honours Mr Reeve and him.’
Georgie says she would like the Reeve family to be involved in Henry’s life. For now, the only member of the Reeve family to have met the baby is his uncle William.
‘He’s a really sweet chap and I worry about his future because this is absolutely no way to begin life,’ William told the Mail. ‘Everyone needs to focus on putting this behind them.’
William’s support for Georgie may have been influenced by a furious row within the Reeve family itself about the future of its estate. Leadenham has been passed down through generations since the 18th century, but was partitioned after Mrs Reeve divorced Peter in 2011.
If his uncle is successful, the future for baby Henry may yet prove to be rosy.
Georgie insists: ‘I never expected — or wanted — James to marry me.’ She adds: ‘I just want him to do the right thing by Henry. What’s happened has happened, and I’m sure James would be amazing at fatherhood if he just gave it a chance.’
Mrs Reeve and James both refused to comment.