'Snubbed' father claims £2.5m from millionare son

A doting dad dedicated his life to helping his dyslexic son become a multi-millionaire businessman from the front room of their council house - only to be snubbed when he had made it, London's High Court has heard.

Roger Marsh says that, after his son was asked to leave two schools because of his learning difficulties, he realised he had to help him or he might spend his life in manual labour.

Mr Marsh told Judge Edward Evans Lombe that together in 1996 he and his son set up a courier business which became so successful that it now turns over more than 5m a year.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But, in 2002, Mr Marsh claims his son fell in love and began snubbing him, subjecting him to a series of humiliations, including taking away his credit cards and asking him to downgrade from a top of the range BMW - to a scooter.

Now Mr Marsh is asking the High Court to declare that he and his son, 34, were in "partnership", and he is entitled to a chunk of his business, Time Critical International Ltd, which trades out of the Lympne Industrial Estate, in Hythe, Kent.

But Andrew Walker, Simon's barrister, says that Roger Marsh's claim - which could see him getting around 2.5m - is a "complete invention", and no more than a "continuation of a long history of bullying and threatening behaviour on his part".

Mr Marsh Snr, who lives in Mountfield, told London's High Court from the witness box: "When I realised my son had learning difficulties, his only hope for the future was working with me."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He added that not getting their partnership in writing was "the biggest mistake of my life", and said that everything was in Simon's name because he feared he could have a heart attack, he had just got divorced and had recently been declared bankrupt.

"I was like a dog licking its wounds, I didn't care about anything but getting my son into work," he said.

Mr Marsh, in his 60s, also said that he had blocked Simon from being put into care when he was a teenager.

"I lived for him," he said. "I could have put him into care. I fought to stop him being incarcerated. But now he is showing a basic lack of concern for my predicament."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ruth Holtham, for Mr Marsh Snr, said that in 1995 Simon expressed concerns to his father about his future.

"As a consequence, Roger sought to secure a better future for his son, including by helping him become a courier," she said, adding that it was an appropriate career choice as Simon was a motor-cross enthusiast as a youngster.

Mr Marsh found his son a job, said Ms Holtham, paid for a van for him, found him new work when he crashed it and borrowed money from Natwest to buy another vehicle.

When, in 1996, an existing courier firm went bust, said the barrister, Roger, a former sales engineer, and Simon established SMS Express Worldwide Ltd, providing courier services as a "partnership".

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Marsh Snr was in charge of paperwork, finances and strategy, she said, and took the lead in sourcing clients and recruiting key personnel.

The barrister added that, although he did everything to "empower his son to enter the business world as a competent individual", Mr Marsh Snr understood he would always retain "some involvement and financial interest".

Ms Holtham said that, when Mr Marsh Snr complained to his son after they fell out, he was "mocked" and offered "derisory compensation".

But his son says that he supported his unemployed dad for years and has been repaid by the court case.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Walker argued there was no "credible" evidence for any of Mr Marsh Snr's claims, and there is "no indication whatsoever of any partnership".

The barrister added that Simon had supported his father financially for "many years", and the older man had "relied and depended" on his son to fund his "non-working lifestyle".

"Very occasional help given by Roger to Simon, and Simon talking problems and plans through with his father in the evenings, does not constitute the carrying on of a business in common," said the barrister.

The court heard that, in 1996, SMS was set up from Old World Cottage, Mountfield, a council house that father and son lived in after their former family home was repossessed. Mr Marsh Snr lives there to this day.

In 2003, Simon, who lives in a .1.5m house, wound down SMS, transferring its business to Time Critical International, the court has heard.

Related topics: