'Haunted-house buyers misled'

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The Independent Online
A PROFESSOR and his wife were 'gullible and nave' when they bought a historic moated manor, dubbed 'the most haunted house in Britain', the High Court sitting in Liverpool, heard yesterday.

Plans for the historic Chingle Hall in Lancashire to be a tourist attraction were a 'pipe dream', said William George, counsel for a Canadian professor, Trevor Kirkham, and his wife, Judy.

Professor Kirkham, of Montreal University, and his wife are suing the former owner of Chingle Hall, John Bruce, a barrister, and his solicitors, Hodgson & Sons of Preston.

They claim they were misled into buying the pounds 420,000 house at Goosnargh, supposedly haunted by a martyr, John Wall, and other spirits.

The couple allege misrepresentation over profit and income from the Grade II listed house and the availability of planning permission.

Mr George said that Professor Kirkham and his wife originally made an unsuccessful offer for the 13th-century house in 1986. Two years later, they were visiting Professor Kirkham's father near Preston when they again visited Chingle Hall. At that time there was a possession order on the house because Mr Bruce had fallen 'considerably into arrears with his mortgage payments', Mr George said.

'It is the plaintiffs' case that they were gullible and nave faced by the first defendant (Mr Bruce) who explained that he was a member of the Bar and also had considerable commercial experience,' Mr George said.

'He made many statements about the successes and likely successes of the business being carried out at Chingle Hall as a tourist attraction.' However, at that time annual losses at the hall - which was open to the public - were in excess of pounds 30,000. Also, plans for the house to be developed further as a tourist attraction were later turned down by the local authority.

The case continues today.