Actress loses £2.3m estate appeal

Hetty Baynes was married to Ken Russell in the 1990sAn actress has lost her High Court appeal for a share of the £2.3m estate of a woman she had claimed treated her as a daughter until her death in 2006.

Hetty Baynes, 52, was seeking financial provision against the estate, which included a family home in Dorset, of the late Mary Spencer Watson.

The actress received £2,500 in the will, but was claiming about £800,000.

Court of Appeal judges dismissed the action saying Ms Baynes had not been entitled to claim as a dependent.

The court heard that Miss Spencer Watson had been in a lesbian relationship with of Ms Baynes’s mother.

She claimed that Miss Spencer Watson treated her as her daughter throughout her life, and was supporting her financially at the time of her death in March 2006, aged 92.

‘Substantial sums’

The actress had claimed £175,000 to discharge her debts, around £600,000 to buy a home, £25,000 to enable her to pursue her career and £7,500 for a car.

She had originally received a gift of £2,500 from the estate, which included the £2m Dunshay Manor in Purbeck, the court was told.

Sir Andrew Morritt, Chancellor of the High Court, said Miss Spencer Watson had been generous to Ms Baynes throughout her life buying the actress, the former wife of film director Ken Russell, a flat in west London when she was 22.

He said: “Both before the marriage to Ken Russell and after their separation Mary lent substantial sums to Hetty.”

In 2003, she lent her almost £50,000 but said that would be the last time she gave her money, he said.

Ms Baynes had still sought and obtained thousands more, said the judge.