AddThis SmartLayers

Legal battle over £4.6m will of former newspaper boss

The future of a Scottish newspaper group could be in doubt following a bitter legal battle over the £4.6m will of its former chief executive.

Deirdre Romanes, who was chief executive of the Dunfermline Press group, died from cancer at the age of 60 in 2010 leaving an estate estimated to be worth around £4.6m.

Her last will, which was drawn up just days before she died, left the bulk of her fortune to the Dunfermline Press through a trust fund – an arrangement which would also benefit her former husband Iain Romanes.

For two years before her death the newspaper had been in financial trouble and Mrs Romanes was said to be determined that it should keep going.

Mr Romanes, who separated from his wife in 2001, continued to be a director of the company after the marriage broke up and holds a block of shares.

But now his former wife’s sister Elizabeth Smyth is accusing him of persuading Mrs Romanes to change the will governing her £4.6m property.

The legal battle over the estate of Deirdre Romanes is taking place in Edinburgh.

Mrs Smyth claims that businessman Mr Romanes was able to exert undue influence on his ex-wife at a time when she “lacked capacity”.

Mrs Smyth, of County Meath, is conducting her own case at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. She says the will completely reduces her share compared to a previous will that was drawn up two years before her death.

Mrs Romanes ran the family-owned business which also included Clyde and Forth Press and a number of Irish newspaper titles

The second will which instructed a payment of £3m into Mrs Romanes’ Liferent Trust was seen as a way of keeping the newspapers going.