Will Sir Jimmy's 'love-child' fix herself a slice of the millions he left to charity
21:50 GMT, 8 June 2012
Next month, the personal effects of one of Britain’s best-loved and most flamboyant personalities will go under the hammer.
Among the lots to be auctioned are a Rolls-Royce Corniche, chunky gold jewellery, a leather 1970s modular sofa, a diamond-encrusted Rolex watch and a selection of coloured string vests (one careful owner, 300 reserve).
Such an eclectic catalogue of items can, of course, have belonged to only one person — the late, great Sir Jimmy Savile.
Like father, like daughter Georgina Ray (right) claims to Sir Jimmy Saville's (left) long-lost love child, the product of a one-night stand with her waitress mother in the back of a camper van
He died last October aged 84 and it is hoped that the auction of his possessions could raise more than 1 million.
That sum, taken together with the proceeds of the sale of the five properties he owned and his other assets, will mean that the one-time DJ and Top Of The Pops presenter left an estate valued at more than 4 million.
His dying wish was that virtually all of that sum would go to charity.
Sure, there were a few token gifts, 1,000 here and there, that went to relatives and friends (he never married or had a family of his own).
But nothing more substantial than that. Because in death, as in life, Sir Jimmy wanted to help the sick — believing that everyone else should follow his lead and seek success through their own hard graft.
Unfortunately, his carefully-laid plans have suffered a somewhat unexpected setback.
This week, it emerged that a 41-year-old woman by the name of Georgina Ray has challenged Sir Jimmy’s will.
She claims to be his long-lost love child, the product of a one-night stand with her waitress mother in the back of a camper van.
She first came forward shortly after his death, insisting that she wasn’t motivated by money and just wanted ‘closure’.
While Mrs Ray declined to speak to the Mail about her ongoing claim, a family source said that what is driving her on is ‘being recognised as his daughter’ and not the money.
But fast forward six months and, as the Mail has discovered, the reality appears very different.
Lawyers have been instructed and DNA tests undertaken by Mrs Ray (after the requisitioning of an old hairbrush containing strands of Sir Jimmy’s hair).
Even with the results still outstanding, a claim has been lodged with the executors of Sir Jimmy’s will.
If the tests prove paternity, then Mrs Ray will be entitled to argue for some — or even the bulk of — the money he left.
Already her actions have halted the distribution of the estate. No money has been handed over to friends, family or, crucially, the charity Sir Jimmy wanted it to go to.
Saville's dying wish was that virtually all of his assets would go to charity
Nothing can be done until the matter is resolved.
And, as is often the way with these wrangles, the fear is that a protracted legal battle could whittle away the legacy, not least because Sir Jimmy’s nearest and dearest are ready to fight Mrs Ray, a woman whose own brother has branded her a ‘gold-digger’.
‘Jimmy would be turning over in his grave at the thought of this,’ Howard Silverman, a hairdresser from Leeds and a friend of the presenter for 40 years, told me.
‘His mentality was that if you don’t want to work for something, then you don’t get it, simple as that.
'I think anyone who was a pal of his respected how he thought and if he thought you were along for a free ride, then he would make it clear.
'It would be “bugger off” — that sort of thing.’
Running over three pages of A4, the last will and testament of Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile lists 18 individuals he wanted remembered.
They include lifelong friends such as 85-year-old Joseph Barker, whom he met at St Anne’s primary school in Leeds, and Professor Mohan Sivananthan, a hospital cardiologist, whom he met through his charitable works.
Also there is Sue Hymns, his long-term lover, with whom he was in a relationship intermittently from 1968 until his death.
This group of 18 were to receive 1,000 each, a token gesture to mark their friendship.
His nephew, Roger Foster, was left Savile’s parents’ gold wedding rings, while his niece, Mandy McKenna, received a black-and-white photo of Sir Jimmy with The Beatles. They and four friends also were to share the income from a 600,000 trust fund.
But it was the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust, set up by Sir Jimmy in 1984, with primary objectives being ‘the relief of poverty and the relief of sickness’, that would receive the 4.3 million remainder of the estate.’
That, however, has all been put on hold. In the middle of April, all the beneficiaries of the will received a short letter from its executors stating: ‘We have received a claim under the Inheritance (Provision For Family And Dependants) Act 1975.
‘Until we have the outcome of such a potential claim we will be unable to make any distributions.’
The Act gives a child or other dependant the right to make a claim against their parent’s estate, for which they are required to successfully argue that ‘reasonable financial provision’ was not made for them.
They would also have to prove that whatever amount they sought was a ‘reasonable maintenance’, based on how well they already were able to support themselves’.
The fact that Sir Jimmy apparently never knew of the existence of his alleged daughter is irrelevant. It is now up to Mrs Ray to prove a blood link beyond all reasonable doubt.
The divorced mother-of-two first surfaced last December when her story was told in the Sun newspaper.
A picture accompanying the article shows a blonde-haired woman whose face, undoubtedly, bears a physical resemblance to Sir Jimmy.
It is claimed that Mrs Ray, a merchandising representative, was born after her mum, Christine Rumford, had a two-week fling with the womanising DJ in 1970.
At the time she was a 19-year-old waitress at a greasy-spoon cafe off the A5 in Cannock, Staffordshire.
‘She was awestruck when Jimmy walked in as he was a big star,’ a friend told the newspaper.
‘He made her laugh by ordering six eggs sunny side up and two mugs of tea.
‘Things just gelled. Jimmy drove a camper van in those days and it seems he carried Christine out of the cafe caveman-style on the day.’
The one-time DJ and Top Of The Pops presenter left an estate valued at more than 4 million
Family members say that Christine made no secret of the fact that Mrs Ray was Jimmy’s daughter, telling her when she was seven. But she never tried to contact the star and asked her daughter not to either.
Mrs Ray did as she was told until two years ago when she was involved in a difficult divorce from her husband Ian. She wrote twice to Sir Jimmy enclosing photos of herself.
Getting no reply, she is then said to have travelled to his luxury flat in Leeds in January of last year.
Although they spoke on the intercom, it is claimed Sir Jimmy pretended not to be in, telling her: ‘He’s away.’
The ‘friend’ quoted by the Sun insisted that all Mrs Ray wanted was to be acknowledged as his daughter: ‘She just wants closure that the man she has considered to be her father all these years actually is.’
If that really is the case, why has she made the claim against the will
It is a question that 36-year-old Chris Rumford, Mrs Ray’s half-brother by their mother’s subsequent marriage, thinks he has the answer to.
‘She is doing it for one simple reason — financial gain, and yes that makes her a bit of a gold-digger,’ he says.
‘She is wrong to pursue this now Jimmy is dead. She’s trying to cash in on his name so she can have a better life.’
Mr Rumford, who admits he has not seen eye-to-eye with his sister for some time, claims that Mrs Ray’s interest in Sir Jimmy was sparked by the fall-out from her divorce.
‘George has always wanted for nothing,’ he says.
‘She lived a very nice, comfortable lifestyle, shopping at M&S, and buying whatever she wanted. She’s a bit of a snob and very materialistic.
‘But that all changed when she got divorced. She thought her husband would walk off into the sunset and she would be left with all the money. But that didn’t happen and she had to split everything.
‘George sets her sights high and if she gets any money from Jimmy’s estate and can live in a posh house, she will.’
Mr Rumford, who is married and also lives in Cannock, is particularly upset that Mrs Ray has involved their sick mother in her legal battle. She has recently undergone chemotherapy treatment for cancer of the gullet.
He says: ‘All the time that Mum was recovering, George kept grilling her about Jimmy, asking her lots of stupid questions and seeking information.
‘She demanded that she sign an affidavit swearing that Jimmy Savile was her biological dad. She hauled her in front of the lawyers to get this sorted while she was being treated for cancer. It was outrageous.’
He adds: ‘Mum wants nothing to do with it and certainly wants no claims on his estate. She had a one-night stand with Jimmy and that’s that. She’s sick and tired of hearing his name now.
'Mum thinks George is totally out of order trying to get her hands on Jimmy’s money.’
Strong words and ones echoed by many close to Sir Jimmy. But what of the Mrs Ray’s claims that she is his child
‘Let’s face it, you wouldn’t be a normal human being and live to his age if you didn’t have relationships with people,’ says Jimmy’s friend, Howard Silverman, 63.
‘We all had one-night stands and so I suppose there is a possibility she is his daughter but the DNA tests will prove it.
‘If they do, then I suppose she should get something, but my opinion is that I don’t think she should get a big portion, because even his close friends and relatives aren’t getting much. She just wasn’t part of his life.’
Sir Jimmy’s nephew Roger Foster, 67, says the intervention by Mrs Ray had brought everything to a halt.
‘It’s really quite galling because the whole of your family is kept in suspense because of this legal action which has nothing whatsoever to do with us,’ he says.
‘He’s not the first celebrity and won’t be the last to have his will challenged after his death because someone feels there’s a few quid in it.
'And that’s the sad aspect about it because, as far as I am aware, there was never any contact between him and this lady.’
A source close to Georgina Ray adds: ‘One day she hopes to put her side of the story, but while proceedings are at a very sensitive stage, she cannot comment.’
One thing her relatives, including her half-brother, agree on is that the DNA tests will confirm that Sir Jimmy was her father.
‘The resemblance is striking,’ says one. ‘It’s her eyes, her nose, her smile — everything.’
But even if that turns out to be the case, legal experts say securing a payout from Sir Jimmy’s will won’t be straightforward.
Andrew Wood, a solicitor specialising in will disputes, says that if the case was to reach court, a judge would pay close attention to what Mrs Ray needed to maintain herself financially.
‘This is where adult children with jobs or earning capacity often fall down, as the vast majority tend to be financially independent and used to providing for their own standard of living,’ explains Mr Wood, a partner with law firm Clarkson Wright & Jakes.
‘It would be open to the court to conclude that nothing at all was in fact reasonable financial provision, and it may well do that, if it considers that she is well provided for from her own resources.’
Certainly, Mrs Ray is said to live fairly modestly, in a semi-detached property in Cannock.
However he adds that, typically, these cases are settled before going to court with the beneficiaries coming together to agree a deal.
He says. ‘It is not uncommon to see claims settled purely to prevent estates from being severely eroded by costs, rather than on the strength of the claim itself.’
In other words, potentially, some of the money that might have ended up going to Sir Jimmy’s charity of choice might go to Mrs Ray instead.
A situation that, say friends, would have had him chomping on that ever-present cigar harder than ever.