A FARMER has spoken about a bitter family feud that could bankrupt his whole family.
Norman Booth, 60, is at the centre of a costly legal battle with his sisters and half-brother over the ownership of Silver Ings Farm in Skelmanthorpe.
The dispute began in 2005 when Mr Booth’s father Edward died.
After he was awarded the estate his three sisters Barbara Conacher, Joan Farmiloe, Linda Lawson and half-brother Herbert Booth, launched legal action claiming the will was a “forgery”.
He fought off their claims in 2006 but within days, two of the sisters, Barbara and Joan, launched fresh proceedings along with Herbert Booth.
This time their case was over the estate of their mother Lucy, who died without making a will in 1993.
They said their mother had been given the farmhouse and two cottages by their father and so he had no right to leave it solely to their brother.
But Mr Booth said his father had shifted ownership of the properties to his mother as he tried to shed assets during his own legal battle with a builder in the 1990s.
Third sister Linda was unable to join the action as she had been bankrupted by a £500k legal bill.
Despite the acrimonious action she still lives on the Strike Lane farm.
Last week a High Court judge at London’s Civil Appeal Court turned down Mr Booth’s bid to have his siblings’ case struck out as “an abuse of process”.
The decision means he may now have to split up the estate, including ownership of a number of properties on the land.
But it has also left both sides of the dispute with massive legal bills.
Speaking to The Examiner for the first time, Mr Booth said it had all kicked off when his sisters had been advised parts of the farm were worth millions.
He said: “Basically it’s been down to greed.
“They didn’t want any milking cows seven-days-a-week.
“They wanted a share of the land but they never wanted a share of the work.
“They never came to me and said ‘look can we sort it out?’
“I said they could stay in the cottages for lifetime for no rent.
“It could have been sorted, instead it’s cost the best part of £1m.”
And he said now his appeal had failed the only winners were going to be the lawyers.
He said: “The solicitors have spent the estate.
“I shall have to pay [my siblings] out but there will be nothing left for nobody because the fees have to come out of the estate”.