Rejected son wins back £8m from Tories

AN Edinburgh man who claimed his father became so "deluded" he left his fortune to the Tories won his £8 million High Court battle today.

Branislav "Bane" Kostic ran a successful pharmaceuticals business in Switzerland and London, but became convinced that "dark forces" were out to get him.

He cut his son Zoran, who lives on Marchmont Road, out of his will and instead left his entire estate to the Conservative Party. At the time, he thought that former prime minister Margaret Thatcher would save the world from monsters, and believed she was the "greatest leader of the free world in history".

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Zoran, 50, launched a legal challenge in July, saying that two new wills should be declared invalid because of the poor mental health of his father, who died in 2005.

Today, in a major blow to Tory finances, Mr Justice Henderson ruled that the decision to disinherit Zoran had been driven by Bane's delusions, and declared the 1988 and 1989 wills invalid.

He upheld a 1974 will, made at a time when nobody disputed he had full capacity, under which only child Zoran was the sole beneficiary. It means Zoran will inherit his father's entire estate.

"His natural affection for Zoran had been poisoned by the disorder of his mind," said the judge.

"The cumulative weight of the evidence on this question is very considerable and it leaves me in no real doubt about the answer."

The judge added there was a "definite connection" between Bane's deluded beliefs and his relationship with the Tory Party.

Sir Malcolm Chaplin and Martin Saunders, the chairman and the secretary of the Conservative Party Association, unsuccessfully argued that although Bane did have delusions, he was still able to make a decision as to who or whom he should leave his money.

The court heard that Bane Kostic, who was born in Belgrade in 1925 and died aged 80, believed he was at battle with "international dark forces" and "satanic monsters".

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He survived being badly wounded in the Second World War and twice imprisoned by the Communists, and went on to set up a pharmaceuticals business. In 1971, he suffered serious head injuries in a car crash.

Until 1984, Mr Kostic, who lived in Ealing, West London, "loved and supported" Zoran, who worked for him part time after he finished university.

But he started believing there were plots against his life, ruining his relationship with his entire family, business associates, bankers, colleagues and professional advisors. He believed his mother and sister conspired to kill his father and brother-in-law, and when his mother became fatally ill in 1992, and his sister had a heart attack, he refused to visit them. He thought it was part of a plot to kill him.

In 1987 Mr Kostic wrote to David Mellor asking for help against the "dark forces" massed against him, and during regular correspondence with the Tories he spoke of the values of "freedom and democracy".

A fan of Mrs Thatcher, he described her as a "unique and genius person". In December 1984, he wrote to her saying she was the only person in the free world who could save "us" from bestial monsters.

Zoran was described in court as a "gentleman amateur scholar", who conducts private research into philosophy and pursues interests including the occult.

Apart from a brief period in the 1970s and 1980s, he has never been in employment, although since his grandmother's death in 1992 has been a "man of substantial independent means". He also ran a second hand book-shop in Edinburgh between 1987 and 1989.

There was no answer at his home today.