A farming family is locked in a £1.4 million court battle over who did the most work.
Barry Harding, 47, is being sued by his mother Joan, 76, who accuses him of forcing her out of Cornerfields Farm in Denham, Bucks, which has been farmed by the family for almost 80 years.
Mr Harding says he has worked on the farm since he was 13, and having to look after the pigs even as a child meant he was “prevented from going to school and achieving any educational attainments”.
He fell out with his mother after his father Trevor died in 2017, leading to her leaving the farm.
Mrs Harding is now demanding about £500,000 compensation for her share of the farm business, as well as profits and loans she says she is owed. It is estimated the dispute could cost the warring sides a further £500,000 in lawyers’ bills.
At Central London County Court, Mr Harding, representing himself, insisted it was his decades of hard work that turned the farm into a success. He disputes what his mother’s share is worth, claiming his own investment of time, labour and money rescued the farm from financial ruin.
His parents, he alleged, made no financial contribution to the purchase of the farm from the council in 2008, other than using his late father’s right-to-buy discount, and he had since invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in improvements..
He told Judge Mark Raeside KC: “I went out to collect swill with my late father and I helped with the pig farming business because this was required of me when my older brother left in 1988.”
The court heard that the Harding family started breeding pigs at Cornerfields Farm in 1948. They ceased pig-breeding around 20 years ago, but Mr Harding says that since then he has invested more than £500,000 to transform it into a skip-hire and cattle feed business.
Mrs Harding insists that she, her husband and her son were in partnership jointly running the farm until her husband’s death in 2017 and that their son has deprived her of her share of income in recent years.
She told the court: “I supported that farm from when I was 19 and I’m now 76 ... I mucked out the pigs and I looked after the house.”
The judge reserved his ruling in the case.