The charity that was bequeathed the bulk of Jimmy Savile's estate is pressing on with its High Court bid to have NatWest removed as the executor of the estate, saying it wants to prevent what should be charitable assets paying NatWest's legal fees.
The Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust is the residuary legatee of the disgraced broadcaster’s £4.3m estate. The trust’s accounts say, however, that it will be given the money in the estate pending potential compensation claims from Savile’s victims.
In February, a High Court judge approved in principle a compensation scheme that would see money from Savile’s estate go to his victims.The approval of the scheme had been opposed by the charity because it was concerned by the costs NatWest had been incurring on the estate.
The same hearing rejected the charity’s attempt to have the bank removed as executor and ordered the charity to pay the legal costs of all parties.
PWT Advice, the law firm representing the charity’s two trustees, said this week that it had applied for leave to appeal against the decision. It is waiting for a date for that application to be heard.
A statement issued by PWT Advice on behalf of the charity’s two trustees said NatWest had gone back on a promise made in April 2013 to retire as the executor of the estate, resulting in unnecessary costs to the estate. The trustees said they were "extremely concerned" that NatWest was paying its legal fees from the estate.
The statement called the decision to make the charitable trust liable for legal costs "outrageous", and said it believed this would not have happened if another charity were due to benefit from the estate.
"We have no doubt this decision was based on the mistaken belief that the trust holds money that belonged originally to Jimmy Savile," said the charity’s statement. "This is incorrect. Generous members of the public raised these funds for charitable causes. To try to take those funds to pay NatWest’s legal fees, or those of the other parties, is unjust and unreasonable."
The charity’s statement said it was "pleased that the court did take on board some of our comments about the proposed scheme to settle claims, particularly that the claims must be scrutinised with input from those who knew or worked with Jimmy Savile".
A spokesman for NatWest said: "The estate is under the overriding supervision of the High Court and we will continue to do everything possible to support a resolution that is in the interests of all parties.
"It is important that we balance the interests of the beneficiaries and claimants and preserve as much money in the estate as possible to meet the claims of those entitled to it."