My children want me dead: Sir Jack Hayward reveals how a vicious feud over his fortune has torn his family apart


Published in December 2013 Sir Jack spoke to a plot!

Sir Jack Hayward

By Jan Moir for the Daily Mail

Sir Jack Hayward pads around the beach cottage, a glass of coconut rum in his hand.

Outside, another velvet Caribbean night closes in, balmy and fragrant with the jasmine that spills over the clapboard porch.

With his unruly shock of white hair, blue shirt, crumpled trousers and sockless feet stuffed into a pair of old shoes, it would be fair to say that the 87-year-old tycoon looks more like a retired car park attendant than the multi-millionaire he is.

But that’s Jack’s style. Down-home. Relaxed.

He likes the simple things in life and is looking forward to his dinner of seafood chowder, followed by braised steak and mashed potato. On the table, there is a dish of Colman’s mustard, the powder mixed with wine or beer, not water.

For Sir Jack, who is worth £130 million, no meal is complete without this most English of condiments.

After all, he is the man fondly known as Union Jack for his philanthropy towards the nation; a largesse over the decades which has included everything from buying Lundy Island on behalf of the National Trust, bankrolling the restoration of Brunel’s ship, the SS Great Britain and stumping up for the Battle of Britain Monument on London’s Embankment, plus countless other acts of good-hearted charity.

He is also the former owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and poured £74 million of his own fortune into his hometown club to improve it and keep it going.

Above all, he is a devoted patriot and his entry in Who’s Who lists his recreation as ‘keeping all things bright, beautiful and British’.

In a festive mood, Sir Jack decides we should have a drop of sherry with our soup, but the ancient bottle produced from the back of a kitchen cupboard seems to be past its best.

‘Ugh. Too gritty,’ he says, peering at the rusty shingle that tumbles into his glass.

Later, over coffee, he proffers a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. ‘Have you tried these? They really are super,’ he says, and pops one in his mouth.

The only touch of majesty here in his Grand Bahama home is a framed and autographed photograph of the Queen, who came to Sir Jack’s for lunch when she was last on the island.

Members of the Royal Family continue to send him Christmas cards every year, which is more than his own family do.

Indeed, he seems remarkably cheerful for a man whose children — he believes — want him dead.

‘Oh, yes, they would rather I kicked the bucket, of course they would.

‘My eldest son Rick is going around the cocktail circuit here on the island saying: “My big problem is that my father won’t die.” Which is a lovely remark to make to people at cocktail parties, isn’t it?

‘All of the children are trying to prove that I am gaga. Even the grandchildren are in on the act, and that hurts. They say they want to protect me from myself! Well, I am quite capable of looking after myself, thank you very much.’

What is behind this unseasonable bout of familial hatred, spearheaded by two of his three children, son Rick, 59, and daughter Sue, 62?

Money, of course. Oodles of the stuff.

His youngest son Jonathan, 53, is not included in the current legal ding-dong, but he and his father were once estranged for 13 years over a financial dispute, when Jonathan was chairman of Wolves.

Father then sued his own son, and they settled on the courthouse steps in Sir Jack’s favour.

This gives rise to the suspicion that be you family or foe — or even a combination of both — you don’t mess with Union Jack.

‘They say that money is the root of all-evil. Well, my children are worried about their future because they are not earning any money.

‘Why don’t they go out and get a good, paying job instead of always lusting after me and my trusts?

‘They haven’t managed it so far. So they are trying to ruin me and my good name.

‘I feel betrayed, disgusted and puzzled by what they are doing — but if they want a fight then, by God, they have got one.’

What has caused the latest rift in this notoriously dysfunctional family? Sir Jack is in no doubt as to the root of the problem.

‘Oh, Wolverhampton Wanderers of course. Wolves was the breaking point. It was Wolves that destroyed the family,’ he says.

Not because Sir Jack fell out with his two sons when he owned the club and they worked for him, although that didn’t help. It was what happened when he sold Wolves that has caused the difficulty.

Sir Jack was determined that his beloved club, which he had dreamed of owning since he was a little boy, would not fall into the wrong hands.

‘Asset strippers, City slickers, people like the Glazers, who just put Manchester United into debt, were what I was afraid of,’ he says.

To this end, he hung on for years to find the right new owner, someone who would invest in the club and believe in it the way he did. Steve Morgan, who had made his fortune in construction, was that man.

In 2007, Sir Jack sold Wolves to him for a nominal £10 because Morgan agreed to invest £30 million of his own money in the club.

‘And that sum is ring-fenced,’ says Sir Jack, who estimates he could have got around £20 million, maybe more, if he had sold the club at auction.

It was a great deal for the club and the people of Wolverhampton, but perhaps not so good for Sir Jack’s own family.

Their sense of entitlement was piqued by their father’s civic generosity.

They could only see this act of sporting benevolence in terms of personal loss; someone else was getting for free what they thought was due to them.

When he took over Wolves in 1990, Sir Jack had started a Bahamian trust company, which gave his three children an interest in the club.

‘The family realised I was going to sell the club and they said: “We want some money”.

‘They would not sign an agreement to let the club go. They said: “We don’t approve of you giving the club away for £10.” So they held me to ransom and extortion.

‘I had to sign over the estates to them, even though I still have to maintain and run them and keep them up out of my own pocket. It is absolute blackmail.’

Sir Jack did indeed sign over to Rick and Sue his 350-acre Lydhurst Estate in Sussex (where their mother, Lady Hayward, lives) and his 14,000-acre Dunmaglas shooting estate in Scotland before they would agree to the Morgan/Wolves deal going through.

The properties are worth about £25million and £10million respectively — and the children were going to inherit them anyway.

The family rift has been widened by Sir Jack’s announcement that his 50 per cent stake in the Grand Bahama Port Authority, which is worth about £80million, is going to fund his retirement and a number of charities both in the Bahamas and London — not his children.

‘The family are as jealous as hell. They think it all belongs to them,’ he says.

Over the past few years, he has become disenchanted with his ‘ungrateful offspring’.

To this end, he has removed their names from other family trusts, a move they and their lawyers are now challenging as illegal.

They also accuse him of frittering away their inheritance and of acting irrationally. The case is due to be heard in the Nassau courts in May, with all family members present.

‘Well, it is true I have frittered away millions — on them! The best education money could buy, although a fat lot of good that did. I bought them all properties and land when they married, lovely homes, the best of everything.

‘They grew up in luxury, I gave them lump sums from time to time, millions of pounds.

‘I financed nonsense like charter boats to the Caribbean, holidays abroad, photography courses, pottery courses, cookery courses, secretarial courses — anything they wanted, they got.

‘Eight of my grandchildren received a nest egg worth £1.14 million, to do with what they wanted when they came of age.

‘They all grew up in homes provided by me. And this is what I get in return? To say that my children are a disappointment to me would be the understatement of the century,’ he says.

‘If I never see them again, I won’t grieve.’

Can that really be true?

On an earlier visit to his office in downtown Freeport, Grand Bahama, I noticed that he still proudly displays thickets of framed photographs of his children and grandchildren on his desk and shelves.

And behind the fighting talk on this Caribbean island, it is clear a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions is unfolding. King Lear, to be precise. Is it really sharper than a serpent’s tooth to have a thankless child?

Just ask Jack Hayward, a former RAF officer pilot who flew Dakotas into Burma during World War II, dropping supplies for the forgotten 14th Army.

‘We were more frightened of flying through the monsoons than we were of the Japanese,’ he says today.

Then, as a buccaneering tycoon, he increased the family fortune made by his businessman father, Sir Charles, by developing the island of Grand Bahama in general and the port of Freeport, in particular.

It has been a long and interesting life and whatever he imagined for his old age it could not have been this — to be dragged through the courts by his children, to have to sit and read a pile of affidavits from close family members labelling him as selfish for indulging in a ‘lavish lifestyle’ and to be deemed mentally fragile to boot.

‘Oh, the affidavits are so vicious and vindictive, it’s unbelievable. Reading them was one of the most shattering experiences of my life.

‘Over 1,000 pages, trying to prove I have lost my marbles and am frittering away my money on useless causes, by which they mean on charities and on Mrs Bloom. They are absolutely staggering, aren’t they, darling?’

He says this to Patti Bloom, the elegant 76-year-old widow who has been his companion and lady friend for many years.

She is watchful and protective of him — and both of them are on excellent terms with Sir Jack’s wife, Lady Hayward, who lives in a ‘timewarp scale of luxury’ at Lydhurst, all happily provided by her husband.

At some point in the past, there was another lady friend, a New York-born blonde who styled herself Frances Singer-Hayward and, just like Patti does now, lived with Jack here on the island as man and wife.

Throughout all this, Hayward still feels ‘deep affection and love’ for his real wife Jean, which all sounds very … civilised.

‘Civilised! It’s been like Peyton Place,’ cries Sir Jack, who once sponsored the England female cricket team because it was ‘a super way of combining the two great loves of my life, women and cricket’.

Yet it is not his complicated living arrangements that have caused the rift with his family.

It is rooted, perhaps, in long-festering hubris — the final flowering of dissatisfaction and sulky expectation.

A yellowing newspaper cutting from August 1970 records the reaction of the then 21-year-old Susan Hayward to the £300,000 that her father had already spent on the repatriation of the SS Great Britain — Brunel’s first propeller-driven ship — from the Falklands to Bristol.

‘A rather unwise expense. I felt that it was just a hunk of iron,’ she said.

Perhaps everybody adores a philanthropist — except his own kids, even if Hayward’s charity did begin at home.

‘I mean, what a joke. Sue is such a snob. She used to cringe when people reminded her that her family came from the Black Country.

‘Her husband Rodney hasn’t done a stroke of work for 40 years, unless you count grooming his horses and going to the hunt as work — and I don’t.

‘They live in a beautiful house once owned by Lord Avon that I bought for them in Wiltshire. They complain now, but none of my children ever put a penny into Wolves.

‘They never put a penny into anything.’

He was particularly stung to read an affidavit written by one young grandson — a photographer currently on a global sabbatical — which suggested that for him ‘Wolves was just an ego trip and a toy’.

Sir Jack sighs: ‘Look, I was born in Wolverhampton, I loved football and I had always wanted to own Wolves. It was my dream. And one day I did.

‘The children and the grandchildren say that selling it for £10 was a bad business decision — but business had nothing to do with it. Some things are more important than money.’

Sir Jack is the survivor of triple bypass surgery and three strokes. A few months ago, he had a big toe amputated. He is not in the greatest of health but a weathered toughness butts though his demeanour.

He will certainly need to muster all resources for what lies ahead.

While younger son Jonathan lives quietly with his family on his farm near Bath and asks for nothing, the rest of the family are circling.

Father Jack is resolutely old fashioned; a man from a different age who survives on his own terms in this one.

He hates spending money on himself, is totally without airs and potters around the island in his eight-year-old Land Rover Freelander.

Elder son Rick likes to say his father has done nothing with his life and had everything handed to him on a plate from Sir Charles.

However, to drive around Grand Bahama is to see the island that Jack built.

When he came here in the Fifties it was little more than scrubland, thickly carpeted with yellow leaf pine. Now there are roads, light industry, an airport and what might very well be the biggest manmade harbour in the world.

But Rick has a legacy here, too — one he is not so keen to boast about at island cocktail parties.

Down at the pleasure area of Port Lucaya, the bar and two restaurants he ran here — in prime sites provided to him by his father — have been shuttered and closed since September.

At the moment, Rick is being pursued by the authorities for £382,301 in unpaid taxes, rent and utility bills, while staff are uniting to sue him for unpaid wages and severance pay.

It must be humiliating for Sir Jack, who has worked so hard to make this island prosper and who still goes around picking up any litter he finds on the streets.

‘Well, you know the old saying, clogs to clogs in three generations?’ he says. ‘Maybe that is going to come true for us.’

Last night, a spokesman for Sir Jack’s children Rick and Sue said they had no comment to make on his allegations.

Whatever happens next in the courts, he is ready to face it without fear.

‘I will fight this lot to the death if I have to,’ he says.

‘I’m going out with all guns blazing.’