Two property consultants conned a dying actress into leaving them her entire £1million estate in her will, a court heard.
Iain Macmaster, 68, and Morris Benhamu, 42, allegedly convinced 1960s star Claire Gordon to sign a will when she was ‘not in a fit and proper state’ that would leave all her money to them.
Mrs Gordon, who lived in west London, was a rival to Diana Dors and billed as ‘Britain’s answer to Brigitte Bardot.’
She starred in a series of raunchy comedies and appeared alongside British comedy legends including Bob Monkhouse and ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em’ star Michael Crawford in West End plays during the 1960s.
Claire Gordon (left, publicity shot for the film Konga) and right, aged 62, was allegedly conned into into leaving two property consultants her entire £1million estate in her will
Her estate, which includes a cottage near the giraffe enclosure at Longleat safari park in Wiltshire and a property in Hurghada, a beach resort in Egypt, was valued at £905,836.
Iain MacMaster, 70, of Fitzrovia, west London, and Morris Benhamu, 42, of Hendon, north-west London, each deny a charge of conspiracy to defraud and fraud at Southwark Crown Court in London.
It is alleged they worked together to defraud Ms Gordon and her relatives as her rightful beneficiaries of her entire estate by falsely claiming she intended them to have it.
Mrs Gordon, who died in April 2015 aged 74, did not have any children, but from her mother’s side had a number of cousins and was godmother to the daughter of close friends Tom and Laura Boon, jurors heard.
Morris Benhamu (left) and Iain Macmaster at an earlier court appearance. They deny a charge of conspiracy to defraud and fraud at Southwark Crown Court in London
Claire Gordon, who at the height of her fame a rival to Diana Dors, died in April 2015
She had previously written a will in 2014 naming her cousins and their children as her beneficiaries, but this has never been recovered.
Mrs Gordon also claimed to be the first actress to appear fully naked on the British stage – in a version of The Three Musketeers.
The show was produced by her future husband, the satirist William Donaldson.
He was better known by the name of Henry Root. He was famous for publishing spoof letters to well-known public figures.
They divorced in 1978, and he died in 2008. They had no children, but she had a number of cousins.
Mrs Gordon with her husband William Donaldson, who is most famous for his Henry Root letters (left) and right, in a publicity shot at the height of her fame in the Sixties
The court heard she was in contact with them to leave them money in her estate.
Jurors also heard that Ms Gordon’s mother Mimi wrote a letter to her brother in 1996, reminding him that he had been made a beneficiary.
Prosecutor Mark Halsey said: ‘The letter says this – ‘In case I forget to tell you, Claire has made a will with Peter Levett making her cousins beneficiaries.’
Ms Gordon’s solicitor, Paul Levett, is expected to give evidence that he prepared the document but Ms Gordon asked for the document to be returned to him.
The actresses financial advisor, Marc Syndenham, will also appear before jurors to testify that Ms Gordon had told him she was intending to make a will with her cousins listed as beneficiaries in April 2014, a year before she died.
Prosecutors say Mr Sydenham was instructed to prepare the documents, but disposed of them after six months when he did not hear back from Ms Gordon with the addresses of her cousins.
Macmaster, of Westminster, and Benhamu, of Hendon, deny one count of conspiracy to defraud and one count of fraud by false representation.
The trial continues.
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