The Queen will have to find a new home for a team of rare horses after the “deceitful” tenants of the Kentish farm where they live were hit with an eviction order, told to pay £680,000 and threatened with prosecution by an irate judge.
Peter and Kamila Lewis have run a stud at 110-acre Fairtrough Farm, on the North Downs, for more than a decade, breeding rare Equus Kinsky horses. They provide livery for 10 of the rare breed horses owned by the Queen.
The farm was the brainchild of Rami Lipman, a millionaire Israeli entrepreneur, who went into business with the Lewises in 1999, to develop the house and land with a view to onward sale.
Mr Lipman had poured more than £2m into the property and the stud business, but had not seen a penny of profit when he died, aged 61, in 2009, London’s High Court heard.
His death sparked a vicious legal battle between Mr and Mrs Lewis and Rami Lipman’s son and heir, Guy Lipman, who sought possession of the farm on behalf of his father’s estate, along with repayment of a £260,000 loan his father made to the couple.
The Lewises refused to leave, claiming Rami Lipman “gave” them the farmland prior to his death, and also refused to pay back the loan, saying Mr Lipman had waived the debt four years before he died.
On Tuesday Judge Simon Brown QC found that Mr and Mrs Lewis had been “telling a pack of lies” to the court in their determination to cling on to the farm and avoid their debts.
Mr Lewis, representing himself, told the judge: “Rami liked the idea of living on the farm surrounded by the animals. It ceased to be business; it had become this idyll, this ideal life”.
But dismissing the couple’s claims that Rami Lipman had given them the land and waived the debt, Judge Brown said: “Such an arrangement would have been ludicrously uncommercial. In my judgment it is not remotely credible that Rami Lipman felt that Mr and Mrs Lewis had earned the farm”.
He ordered the couple to give up possession of the farm to Mr Lipman Jr within 28 days and pay £473,250 to satisfy their debt to Rami Lipman’s estate, plus legal costs estimated at £215,000.
The angry judge also directed that papers in the case be passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions and imposed a worldwide freezing order over the couple’s assets.