Diana Coad, who stood for the Tories in Stourbridge at the 2005 General Election, has been told the house left to her by her husband Peter Dale-Gough will be sold, despite begging the judge to ‘please help me’ in a handwritten letter. Miss Coad, 71, lived at the four-bedroom property in Slough with her husband until his death in August 2013. Mr Dale-Gough’s will granted his wife the right to live in the house for the rest of her life.
It said that in the event of the property being sold with her consent, the proceeds would be split between Miss Coad and Mr Dale-Gough’s two children Ben Dale-Gough and Mary-Jane Pettit.
But the case ended up in court when Miss Coad took an unsuccessful action against her stepchildren at Slough County Court, asking for further provision from her late husband’s estate.
Her claim was dismissed in 2020, and she was ordered to pay her stepchildren’s legal costs, which with interest have now risen to almost £100,000. Miss Coad, who had been a catwalk model, personal assistant to a national newspaper editor and restaurateur before going into politics, pleaded with the judge not to evict her to raise money for the court costs.
In a hand-written letter, she told the judge she had suffered “stress and anxiety” from the threat of losing her home, and begged the judge to ‘please help me’.
Barrister Mr Aidan Briggs asked the court to make the order despite her pleas, saying it was the only way the stepchildren would see their money without making Miss Coad bankrupt. Deputy Master Marsh rejected Miss Coad’s case and granted an order allowing her stepchildren to sell the house so the debts could be paid off.
Mr Dale-Gough, a former headteacher who was also a Tory councillor, died in hospital aged 74 in August 2013 after collapsing while playing golf with friends.
Mr Julian Reed, representing Miss Coad in court, said ordering a sale of the house without her consent would go against her late husband’s wishes as expressed in his will.
“The deceased clearly envisaged protection for the defendant so that she could live at the property with a life interest,” he said.
Mr Reed added that Miss Coad was “very vulnerable” and largely housebound, suffering from multiple sclerosis.
“This is a very vulnerable defendant, who needs to be protected.”
But Mr Briggs said Miss Coad had no other assets, and that the debt would just continue to grow unless the house was sold.
“My clients are very substantially out of pocket in the meantime,” he said.
Mr Briggs said once the house had been sold and the debts settled, Miss Coad would still be left with more than £250,000 to find another home.
He added that the house was much larger than required by a single person.
Deputy Master Marsh said Mrs Dale-Gough had brought the whole situation on herself by making the claim against her stepchildren.
He said she had failed to file documents in time and had not co-operated in paying the lawyers’ bills.
The court heard she had failed to participate even in the proceedings relating to the forced sale of her home, until at a late stage she wrote to the court begging a judge to help her.
The judge continued: “It was the intention of Mr Dale-Gough that his wife should have the opportunity to reside in the property during her lifetime, subject to certain conditions.
“It is also right that, with her agreement, a sale of the property could take place and, if that sale took place, there was an arrangement under which part of the proceeds would be available for an alternative property to be acquired.
“It follows that the intentions of the deceased were not absolute. He contemplated the possibility that there might be a sale of the property within her lifetime.
“There is now a long-standing personal debt, which on any view is substantial.”
Miss Coad returned to Slough after losing by 407 votes to Labour’s Lynda Waltho in the General Election.
She served as a councillor, later defecting to Ukip and then the Brexit Party before standing down.