I was no longer a father in an instant: After doctors told him he had almost probably been infertile since birth, wife is compelled to pay husband £250,000 for ‘tricking’ him into believing three sons were his for 21 years.
When physicians told him he had almost definitely been infertile since birth, a loving father realized the three sons he had reared for more than 20 years were not his.
Following an exceptional legal case that permitted her to keep the name of the real father a secret, Richard Mason’s ex-wife has now been compelled to pay him £250,000.
Devastated Mr Mason was certain he was the boys’ biological father until he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis two years ago, a genetic disorder that prohibits men from naturally fathering children.
The businessman’s life – and his connection with his eldest, now 23, and his 19-year-old twins – was thrown into chaos after DNA and other testing proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has no biological link to them.
During an intermittent four-year affair his wife Kate, 54, had in the late 1990s, Mr Mason believes the same guy fathered all three boys.
During an intermittent four-year affair his wife Kate, 54, had in the late 1990s, Mr Mason believes the same guy fathered all three boys.
But she only admitted to the adultery ten years after their divorce, when he challenged her about the paternity of their children.
Mrs Mason’s former lover may or may not be aware that he has three sons from their on-again, off-again relationship.
Mr Mason initiated a legal battle to reclaim some of the £4 million he and his wife earned in their divorce settlement, as well as suing her for paternity fraud, which brought the story to light. As a result, two of the lads have stopped speaking to him.
Mrs Mason declared an unexpected interest in Judaism when she became pregnant with the first child, according to legal documents seen by The Mail on Sunday, and requested that all three children be given Jewish middle names. She also objected to their being baptized.
Mr Mason, from Rhos, North Wales, feels it is a hint to the real father’s identity, but he is troubled by the fact that he does not know who he is, and has urged on his ex-wife to confess the truth if only for the sake of her sons.
Mr Mason, 55, a rich co-founder of the online comparison site MoneySupermarket.com, told The Mail on Sunday last night that finding out the boys weren’t his his shattered his life.
‘You have no idea what’s genuine and what isn’t — it’s like I’m in The Matrix,’ he remarked. ‘Someone tells you that everything you know and believe to be solid and true is not real and never was.’ You are not a father, you are not capable of having children, and your surname will not be carried on.’
‘I still see what the boys are up to on Facebook, and it breaks my heart since we saw the eldest’s graduation on there, but I wasn’t invited.
‘Every time I pass a toy store, it reminds me of buying Christmas presents for kids and other family events.’
‘And I just think, ‘My God, that’s all been ripped away from me,’ when friends post things on Facebook about their own kids, like their first grandchild or expressing they’re proud of their boy for something.’
His specialist lawyer, Roger Terrell, launched a two-pronged legal assault, seeking not only to have the divorce settlement reassessed in the Family Court, but also to seek damages from Mrs Mason in Birmingham County Court for paternity fraud. ‘We recognize it’s a legal first because no divorce financial settlement has ever been set aside in such emotional circumstances,’ Mr Terrell added.
‘Normally, the husband is taken back to court for failing to report some of his income, but in this case, it was the wife, and the issue was paternity of the children.’ All of this makes it quite unique.’
Mr Mason, who is now remarried, claims his ex-wife ‘tricked’ him into believing the boys were his when she must have had some doubts – not least because she became pregnant barely seven years into their marriage.
‘Even though I always complied with the Child Support Agency instructions after the divorce, she pursued me for extra maintenance,’ he stated.
‘In the meantime, as far as I know, the biological father has never paid a thing.’
It’s shocking, heartbreaking, and completely awful. MoneySuperMarket.com co-founder Richard expresses his rage at his ex-infidelity, wife’s as well as his heartfelt plea for the REAL father to come forward…
Richard Mason’s study is crammed with images of three tousle-haired boys captured at pivotal stages in their young lives.
He treasures these priceless mementos of holidays, family festivities, and the school years during which his sons matured into maturity, just like any other father.
After 21 years, however, that parental pride was broken, replaced by deep regret and a burning sense of betrayal.
He realized in 2016 that he could not have fathered the sons he adored – and still adores – due to medical reasons.
Richard, 55, was still reeling from the trauma of being diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a life-limiting ailment that effectively meant he was living on borrowed time when the news arrived.
The multi-millionaire businessman realized that infertility was a tragic side effect of the hereditary illness as he sought to come to terms with the diagnosis.
Despite apparent evidence to the contrary in the form of the sons he had witnessed being born, there was no medical possibility that they were blood relatives. He told The Mail on Sunday, ‘I just didn’t know who I was anymore.’
‘It’s like losing a loved one; it’s devastating, but in some ways it’s even worse because it cuts to the core of who you think you are.’ When people inquire about your history, you tell them you’re the father of three children because that’s how you define yourself.
‘I found I didn’t have any children in an instant.’
‘When such a fundamental cornerstone of your existence is suddenly destroyed, you begin to doubt everything you thought you understood.’
Richard’s legal quest to wring the truth from his ex-wife Kate, 54, began two years ago, when the life he believed he had was shattered by a few lines from a hospital consultant.
Kate received a £4 million lump settlement as well as ongoing support from the pair, who met as colleagues at Barclays Bank and married in 1987.
Richard set out to reclaim some of the millions he had paid her over the years in a case his lawyer believed to be a legal first in December 2016, after discovering he was not the father of the boys – who we have chosen not to name.
After he sought to have the divorce financial settlement’set aside,’ he filed a rare paternity fraud action, and she agreed out of court to return a £250,000 share of the lump sum. Her alleged deception was at the heart of the lawsuit.
Richard clings to the desperate hope that he might somehow mend the shattered connections with the boys he refers to as “the sons I believed were mine” – before it is too late – as he struggles to cope to the painful transformation of his life caused by illness and the “loss” of his children.
Richard and his current wife Emma drove 65 miles from their home in Rhos, North Wales to Liverpool’s Heart and Chest Hospital on the day that would change his life forever.
They assumed the meeting was to change the medicines Richard had been taking for more than a year to treat his ‘pleurisy.’ Despite a family history of cystic fibrosis, a genetic test performed in the 1980s gave him the green light.
However, the news would not be so good this time. Richard explained, “The expert sat us down in his office and broke it to me as Emma sat by my side.”
‘Hi, I went to the Liverpool Chest Hospital today… to finally obtain my diagnosis that I have cystic fibrosis,’ he texted, evasively. In their experience, no man with CF has ever fathered more than one child, let alone three.
‘They went on to declare that I am not the father of any children 98 percent of the time.’ I was hoping you could save me the embarrassment of future testing by telling me if I am the father right now.
‘I’m happy to follow your advise on how to best inform the guys.’
And here’s the response:
‘Regardless of what you believe, I am deeply sorry that you have been through such an emotional ordeal.’
‘Of course the boys are yours, regardless of what science says.’
‘I’m sorry to inform you, Richard, that you have cystic fibrosis,’ he remarked. My instant reaction was ‘F*** no!’ because my older sister had died from it and my younger sister was also very sick.’
What happened next was a much bigger shock, one that made Richard reconsider every aspect of his life up until that moment.
Mr Mason explained, “He informed me that 98 percent of male CF patients are infertile, and I realized he was telling me that it was highly improbable I could have fathered any children.”
‘However, you must have misdiagnosed me because I have three boys,’ I countered. I was really relieved to be able to tell him this since it demonstrated his diagnosis was incorrect and that I had not contracted the sickness that killed my sister.
‘However, he turned to the nurse and asked, ‘How do we deal with this?’ H
‘That day, I spoke with a number of medical specialists and was told that none of the CF patients they dealt with at the hospital had conceived a child.’
‘I just had the ringing in my ears when you hit your head so hard after that.’ ‘Nothing seemed to register.’
‘I didn’t weep then, but I was trembling and the room was buzzing, people were talking, but I wasn’t taking it in,’ he said, his voice quivering with emotion.
‘S***, my life is ruined,’ I was just thinking.
‘How would you tell your friends and family — parents, aunts and uncles – that you don’t have any grandchildren or nephews?’
Richard went out of the hospital and into the parking lot, still dazed, and sent a text to Kate, telling her what he’d just discovered and that he’d have to undergo sperm analysis and an ultrasound scan on his scrotum.
‘I was hoped you could spare me any additional humiliation by telling me now if I am the father,’ he wrote.
‘I’m happy to follow your advise on how to best inform the guys.’ However, if you compel me to take these further examinations, I will tell them whatever I want.
‘I have no intention of suing you and would prefer to be involved with the lads.’
Within minutes, she responded, but it was less than categorical: ‘Of course the boys are yours, regardless of what science says.’
Despite his reservations, Richard chose to inform his eldest son, who was 21 and a university student at the time.
‘I told him I’d recently been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, which he took very quietly, and I said, ‘Yes, but one of the things I’ve just been told is that someone with cystic fibrosis is incredibly rare to father a kid.’
‘I’m already ahead of you, Dad,’ he added. You’re implying that you’re not my father?’
‘It would have been the most difficult statement for me to say, but he did it for me.’
‘Obviously, I’m your father, but I don’t believe I conceived you,’ I added. I was both emotional and enraged at the same time. I did cry and break down after the shock had passed, but it took a few days for it to happen.’
After being confronted by her son two days later, Kate called Richard and said she had been having an on-again, off-again affair with a guy during their 20-year marriage, but refused to name him outright.
He was a member of Barclays’ staff, she claimed, and they met in a London hotel on overnight excursions she took as a union representative.
She stated that they had intercourse six to twelve times, which included the times when she became pregnant, but that it ‘couldn’t be him’ because they always used condoms, therefore she insisted that Richard was the father.
Richard and Kate met in the 1980s while working at a bank branch in the West Midlands, and he had a successful career, especially when he linked up with university accountancy dropout Simon Nixon, who went on to found Moneysupermarket, one of the first price comparison sites in the UK.
Richard’s 1.25 percent stake in the company was worth £10 million when it was floated in 2007.
Richard believes that the three boys were the only positive aspects of a marriage that he describes as “cold and joyless.”
He was present for all of their caesarean births: the first in 1995, followed by twins four years later.
The marriage, however, was on the rocks by the beginning of 2007, and he and Kate divorced.
The divorce was finalized in early 2008, and Kate’s £4 million lump sum included the boys’ private school costs in advance in the financial settlement a year later.
In the early years after their divorce, Richard complied with Child Support Agency (later the Child Support Service) assessments for maintenance, which amounted to roughly £3,000 per month.
However, he claims it was never enough for Kate.
‘She pursued me for years, hiring consultants to look into my finances and try to get me to pay more,’ he continued, his deceptively youthful face distorted with restrained wrath. ‘In the meantime, as far as I’m aware, the boys’ biological father has never given a penny for their upkeep.’
Kate and her new boyfriend now live in a £1 million seven-bedroom property in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, and there were four cars in the long driveway when Richard last arrived to pick up the boys, including a Range Rover Vogue and a Mercedes C Class Cabriolet.
Richard believed he had little choice but to seek guidance from paternity fraud expert, attorney Roger Terrell, in the face of Kate’s denial, and the legal case was filed in December 2016 at Birmingham County Court.
Richard’s inability to produce sperm in the normal way was confirmed by medical examinations, and DNA tests on the 16-year-old twins revealed they were not his sons.
‘As far as I’m concerned, he’s my dad and that’s that,’ said the eldest, refusing to provide a DNA sample.
Richard added that as the legal process advanced, he had a devastating message for his father.
‘If you sue Mum, I will never speak to you again,’ my eldest said, and he hasn’t.’
One of his twins hasn’t contacted him in a long time, while the other, now at university, texts Richard on a regular basis. However, as Richard pointed out, the emotional repercussions has affected far more than just himself and the sons.
Brenda, his 85-year-old mother, has Alzheimer’s disease, and when he pays her a visit once or twice a week, she always asks, “How are the boys?” ‘All these years, she thought these were her grandchildren,’ he added through tears. So, when she asks, I might reply “fine” and go on, but I can’t lie to her, and I’ll have to tell her I don’t see them any longer.
‘Then I have to explain why, and we both endure the misery together, knowing that I’ll have to do it all over again the next week.’ It’s too much. My family has also lost the boys, and I share their grief.
‘Kate’s lies have had a major ripple effect.
‘I’m worried about the future. Graduations, 21st birthday parties, weddings, grandkids, the dreams and worries of your children becoming adults, and guiding and assisting them along the road were all on my mind. That was taken from me in the most heinous manner possible.’
He has trouble describing his relationship with the boys, not only to others but also to himself.
‘I know I’m not their father, but I’m still their father.’ When I talk about them with other people, I naturally say’my sons,’ but I have to correct myself and say, ‘the sons I thought were mine,’ after 21 years.
‘Adopting or fostering a child is different. That was done voluntarily and without deception or lies. It eats away at you in this case because there was dishonesty.
‘I’m not their father, and I’m not even a family friend.’ I’m merely a guy who was present when they were raised.’
When he wakes up in the middle of the night, he is tortured by a flashback to a seemingly trivial occurrence from years ago, but now viewed through the lens of suspicion.
Despite Kate’s denials, the scene is set in an Indian restaurant where the pair is dining for the first time. Despite her claims, the owner recalls meeting Kate on numerous occasions previously.
So, how should we interpret Kate’s unexpected interest in Judaism, which she expressed during her first pregnancy? And what about her insistence on giving each of the boys a ‘Jewish’ middle name? Richard was intrigued at the time, but now believes it was a major hint to the boys’ biological father’s identity.
He’s desperate to find out who that man is. He has his beliefs, one of which revolves around Kate’s old boyfriend who also works at the bank, but she has denied it, and he doesn’t want to blame him without proof.
He stated, “I would like the biological father to see this piece and come forward.” ‘Not least for the sake of the boys, who will want to know who their biological father is, even if I hope they will always consider me to be their father.’
Richard’s lung capacity has dropped substantially since his diagnosis two years ago, from 84 percent to 72 percent, but it appears to be stabilizing thanks to medications.
However, he estimates that he will have to rely on an oxygen tank for the next ten years, the same trip his sister Susan took while waiting for a lung transplant in 1989. She died on the operating table at Harefield Hospital while renowned heart surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub tried a heart-lung transplant.
Richard easily confesses that it is only his love for Emma that has kept him going – and that he has assisted her in her battle with breast cancer.
She is now six months cancer-free after having one breast removed, but she will soon undergo a second mastectomy and hysterectomy due to the ‘killing’ gene she received from her mother, who died of the disease at the age of 42.
Richard is enraged that Kate’s dishonesty about the boys’ paternity has effectively denied him the opportunity to father a child with Emma.
Emma, now 46, was diagnosed with cancer just weeks after Richard found he was infertile and began a course of chemotherapy that caused her body to go into premature menopause.
Looking ahead, Richard, whose persistent cough is the only indication of his deteriorating lung capacity, now desires more than ever to be the boys’ ‘dad.’