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Who's suing who

A WIFE who was sent to jail three years ago after remortgaging the marital home with eight different lending institutions is the subject of a writ this week from First National Bank, one of the lenders.

Winifred Mary Watmough is one of 10 defendants in the writ from First National, together with her husband Walter Samuel Watmough and Alliance & Leicester, the first institution to lend to the couple.

Mrs Watmough managed to raise loans secured on her home from nine different lending institutions in a borrowing spree which lasted from 1988 to 1995.

First National is seeking to unwind the tangle of legal claims and counter claims left over from the case, which centres on the Watmough's home, "Westwynds", Laleham Reach, Chertsey, Surrey. The house itself is only currently worth about pounds 200,000, a figure likely to be exceeded by the lawyers' fees incurred in the saga.

In total First National is suing the Watmoughs, Alliance & Leicester, Lloyds Bank, Alliance & Leicester Personal Finance, Mercantile Credit Company, Abbey National Personal Finance, National Westminster Bank, TSB Direct and Barclays Bank.

The story starts in 1969 when the couple bought their house using a mortgage from Alliance & Leicester totalling pounds 3,089. In 1982 the Watmoughs borrowed another pounds 25,182.45 from Forward Trust Charge, again secured on the house.

By 1988 the value of the house had grown to pounds 220,000, and in July of that year First National lent Mr and Mrs Watmough pounds 56,000, secured on the house.

This sum was used to pay off another mortgage and to improve the house. In January 1990 First National advanced another pounds 5,662.37 to the couple.

On 4 April 1990 Alliance & Leicester wrote to First National saying that it was making a further advance to Mr and Mrs Watmough.

First National's writ claims: "The said representation was untrue."

It continues: "Mr Watmough denies that he was a party to the said transactions."

"In May 1995 Mrs Watmough was convicted of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception and four counts of making a false instrument and sentenced to a term of imprisonment." "The said false instruments included the Plaintiff's Charge and the further advance transactions with Alliance & Leicester."

"It is to be inferred that in fact, Mrs Watmough had deceived the Plaintiff and Alliance & Leicester by forging Mr Watmough's signature on the said Charge and further advance transactions."

Believing that both Mr and Mrs Watmough were borrowing the money from Alliance & Leicester, First National agreed to sign a "Deed of Postponement" acknowledging the society's further charge over the house. In fact the money only went to Mrs Watmough, the writ says, rendering the postponement deed null and void.

First National now claims that it is owed a total of pounds 204,949.90 including interest.

The writ adds: "The fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eight, ninth and tenth defendants are joined as persons claiming to be interested in the Property...."

It transpires that Mrs Watmough managed to raise further money secured on "Westwynds" from Lloyds Bank on 4 February 1993, from Alliance & Leicester Personal Credit on 14 April 1993, from Mecantile Credit Company on 17 June 1993, from Abbey National Personal Finance on 12 July 1993, from NatWest Bank on 1 November 1993, from TSB Direct on 19 July 1994, and lastly from Barclays Bank on 21 March 1995.

Davis & Co, the solicitors representing First National Bank, are demanding a declaration that the deed of postponement given to Alliance & Leicester is null and void.

It also wants the first three charges granted over "Westwynds" to be given priority as the whole financial mess is sorted out.

THE Inebriated Newt is sueing The Baby Grand Hotel Company over the lease for the Newt's restaurant at 172 Northcote Road, a fashionable area of London near Clapham Junction.

The Newt is demanding "Relief, if necessary, against forfeiture of the Lease dated 1 February 1985 in the respect of the premises...."

It is also seeking a declaration that "the defendant was not entitled to seek to re-enter the aforesaid premises, as it did on or about the 4 December 1997".

LASTLY, David Gower is suing a Devon- based maker of surfing gear over an alleged trademark infringement.

My enquiries about the writ prompted laughter from a member of solicitors Bond Pearce of Plymouth, acting for Mr Gower; no, this isn't the famous cricketer, he said. The plaintiff is in fact a maker of surfing related clothing, under the trademark "Headworx".

The surfing Mr Gower is based at Manor House, Brunel Road, Newton Abbot. The solicitor tells me: "I've never known him to be confused with the cricketer before. I've met him, and I can assure you he has no white hair."