Listed house 'bought for Hewitt's mother'

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WELL, is he buying it or isn't he? Yesterday it seemed that former acting Major James Hewitt would today complete the purchase of a pounds 250,000 Georgian house near Okehampton in Devon.

Indeed, on Tuesday Judge Bruce Markham-David said he had sold his Grade II listed home, Eversfield Manor, in Bratton Clovelly on the edge of Dartmoor, to the 36-year- old former Household Cavalry officer and alleged lover of the Princess of Wales.

Yesterday, however, Mr Hewitt's sister, Syra Smyth, of Ebford, near Exeter, insisted that it was his mother, Shirley Hewitt, who had bought the house and 36 acres of surrounding land.

'The house at Bratton Clovelly is not James's. It is mother's . . . I know the judge who is selling the house said James was buying it but he probably saw him and put two and three together and made 10,' she said.

'Mother will be moving and if I can find a house I will move too . . .'

Mr Hewitt is at the eye of a publicity storm over indiscretions about his alleged love affair with the Princess of Wales chronicled in a new book, Princess in Love, by Anna Pasternak.

Mrs Smyth added that the money for the house had come from the sale of building plots in the grounds of the family home at Ebford, which would in time be sold as well.

However, the plot thickened again yesterday when Judge Bruce Markham-David told the Independent that 'both' the former officer and his mother were buying it.

'He is buying it with his mother. As I understand it, if I recollect correctly, and I signed the contract and things, it is him and his mother. Yes, they are joint buyers . . .

'I have not got the documents in front of me. That is my only hesitation. It is some time since I signed . . . the exchange . . . and the transfer . . . I did not really look at. So, em, that is my recollection. If I turn out to be wrong, too bad.

'I am not swearing on a stack of Bibles that I am correct.'