Hunted star in court fight with his millionaire life coach uncle
Star of Channel 4 reality show Hunted is locked in bitter court fight with his millionaire life coach uncle over ownership of £1m family farm
A reality TV star is in a court battle with his wealthy uncle over the ownership of their £1million family farm.
Frank Savage, 28, appeared on the Channel 4 reality adventure series ‘Hunted’ in 2019 – the year that nobody took home the £100,000 prize.
Frank was the last one to survive and entered the show with his brother, Harry, 25. The pair dealt with the loss of their mother just weeks before the show was filmed, leaving them orphans.
Now, backed by his brother and other siblings, Frank is locked in a court row with his millionaire uncle, Ray Savage, over Pleasant Rise Farm, near Alfriston in Sussex.
The farm, which is home to a popular campsite as well as supporting Frank’s firewood business, has been in the Savage family for three generations.
It was was passed down by Frank’s grandfather and ownership is now shared between Frank and his three siblings and their Uncle Ray.
Hunted star Frank Savage is locked in a bitter court battle over the ownership of their £million family farm
Ray Savage, Frank’s uncle wants to sell the family farm to the highest bidder in wake of the split from his wife
Backed by his brother and other siblings, Frank is locked in a court row with his millionaire uncle, Ray Savage, over Pleasant Rise Farm, near Alfriston in Sussex (pictured)
Ray – a former police detective and life coach – wants the prime 76-acre site close to the Sussex coast to be sold to the highest bidder in the wake of his split from wife Vanessa in 2015.
But Frank is suing him and is adamant that the farm should stay in the family.
Frank and Harry were both star contestants in ‘Hunted’, where 14 ordinary people have to go on the run for nearly a month while eluding a team of expert sleuths and trackers.
Harry, a drama student, was caught out on day 24 when he was caught in Birmingham city centre, while brother Frank was apprehended just minutes before the helicopter extraction finale which would have seen him pocket the £100,000 prize.
The pair’s father, Roy Savage, died when Frank was 18 and Harry just 15.
Their grandparents Leonard and Diana Savage bought the farm in the 1950s, expanding it over the years and establishing a thriving campsite in the 1970s.
Leonard died in 2008, followed by Frank’s father in 2013, and since then Frank – who has been working on the farm since the age of 10 – has taken over running the campsite, as well as operating a woodcutting business from the site.
Frank says his grandparents ‘always intended for the land to be passed down through the family – not sold’. A trust left the farm in unequal shares to their son Ray, and Frank and his siblings.
He is now seeking the right to buy his uncle out at a preferential rate and claimed he has dedicated his ‘entire career’ and tens of thousands of pounds to keep the site going.
‘He regards his interest in the land as part of his ‘family’s legacy’ which he intends to pass on to generations after him,’ explained Frank’s barrister, William Moffett.
The dispute between uncle and nephew developed against the background of Ray Savage’s divorce from his wife, Vanessa, as the pair battled over their assets.
Ray owns an additional £1.5 million parcel of land on top of the farm he shares with his niece and nephews.
Frank is suing his uncle as an intervener in the divorce fight, which is still ongoing eight years after it began in 2015.
Selling the land on the open market would break up a long-running family concern and confound the intentions of his grandparents, says Frank, as they wanted their descendants to keep the land.
Frank (R) and Harry (L) lost their mother and became orphans weeks before they filmed Hunted
Ray (R) owns an additional £1.5 million parcel of land on top of the farm he shares with his niece and nephews. Pictured: Frank (L) and Ray (R) outside the Court of Appeal in London
The farm (pictured), which is home to a popular campsite as well as supporting Frank’s firewood business, has been in the Savage family for three generations
In addition, he claimed he would never have made the financial and personal sacrifices involved in working the site over the years ‘if he thought he could be required to leave it in order for it to be sold’.
He said that he and Ray had ‘many conversations’ in the past in which it was agreed that in the future he would keep running the campsite.
But his uncle insists he was also involved in developing the site and land, keeping horses on part of it as well as acquiring a tennis court and linked facilities on the site with his brother in the 1970s.
‘Ray’s case is that there was nothing in the purpose or intention of the trust which permits Frank sole occupation of the land,’ Mr Moffett explained.
In February last year, a judge ruled in Frank’s favour on the dispute, giving him the right to purchase his uncle’s share of the land for £666,150.
But his uncle successfully attacked that decision at Brighton County Court last October, prompting Frank to lodge a last-ditch legal challenge in London’s Appeal Court.
His lawyers say the judge at Brighton County Court – Judge Stuart Farquhar – was wrong to sideline Frank and his siblings’ interests when weighing up all the issues.
But Ray’s barrister Simon Sinnatt argued that the judge correctly applied the law and further claimed that Frank has misrepresented some of the history of the case.
He took issue with claims that the family land is Frank’s ‘only source of livelihood he has known all his adult life’, suggesting that in truth Frank has been also been working elsewhere as a groundsman and tree surgeon and was 19 when he started running the campsite.
He also told the judge that in the past Ray had also put his cash into buying some of the family land.
The three Appeal Court judges have now reserved their ruling in the case.
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