Mabel drew up her first will following the death of her father Lord Strickland's death in 1940, when she was made his heir. Thirty five years later, in 1975, when she was aged 76, Mabel drew up another will carefully planning for her Strickland succession. In her 1975 will she chose her great nephew Robert Hornyold-Strickland (a UK national) as her sole and universal heir and she never changed her mind on this decision. Mabel died in 1988.
- Mabel's 1975 will was reconfirmed in 1977, when new provisions were introduced requiring all wills to be supported by a Doctor's certificate. Clear typewritten copies of both wills were given to Robert by Mabel, together with a letter explaining her intentions very clearly.
- In 1977, to ensure a smooth Strickland succession, Mabel tried to adopt Robert as her son. This process, although initially approved by the Courts, was blocked by the then Government, which changed the laws and the Constitution of Malta and then made these changes retroactive, with no reason being given. This action appears to have been aimed solely at frustrating Mabel's intentions and this was recognised as such at the time.
- In 1978, only one year later, Robert was declared persona non-grata, in Malta, for political reasons. As a result, rather than being by his Aunt's side in Malta, helping her to run her various business, he was forced to move back to London. Robert was in exile for nine years until 1987. Undoubtedly, this was to put further pressure on Mabel's succession plans by deliberately separating her from her heir.
- Robert has been given access to the 1978 Police files concerning this deportation, which clearly show that this was politically motivated at the time. Robert is now a dual National.
- After Robert's departure in 1979 Mabel was persuaded by her new legal adviser Prof Guido de Marco, to change her 1975 will. This revised 1979 will was drafted by Dr de Marco, on his own admission, and a number of significant bequests were changed. This final will was further updated by a codicil in 1982 which became necessary because some of her 1979 instructions to her legal adviser had been ignored.
- Mabel made provision for a contingent trust to be set up in her 1975 will. The rationale for the original trust was to safeguard Robert's inheritance position in the light of the Foreign Interference proposals, that were later enacted in 1982. This legislation precluded foreign ownership of significant Maltese enterprises. However this contingent trust was changed into a Foundation in 1979, becoming The Strickland Foundation that was specifically set up "for herself and her heirs in perpetuity" with certain other charitable and educational objectives.
- A copy of the revised 1979 will together with The Strickland Foundation founding deed were never given to Robert at the time, despite Mabel immediately sending Prof de Marco over to London to inform Robert of these significant changes. Surprisingly de Marco failed to meet up with Robert to update him, despite de Marco being in London long enough to do so either in 1979 (as instructed) or at any time over the next nine years. As a result, Robert knew nothing of the changed will until after his Aunt's death in 1988.
- Under Maltese law the heir, immediately, becomes the owner of all the deceased assets. Yet, at the same time, he also inherits a duty to pass on all valid and quantifiable legacies, pay off any debts of the deceased and any taxes due on the estate; the executors are tasked with ensuring that the heir fulfills these obligations. Instead the executors, without ever consulting the heir, put the main legatee in possession of assets - to which they were not entitled - at the expense of the heir.
- In 1979 Prof Guido de Marco and Prof Joseph Ganado were nominated to be the first testamentary executors of Mabel's estate, after her death (given that Robert's was not able to be in Malta at that time). These two executors were now also entrusted with Council membership of The Strickland Foundation - set up for Mabel "and her heirs in perpetuity".
- The Strickland Foundation was then left, by way of legacy, the majority of Mabel's estate but the validity and extent of these legacies is far from clear in the will, hence Robert's two legal challenges.
- Apart from the two legacies to The Strickland Foundation, Robert inherited the remainder of the estate,much of which had to be sold to pay off Mabel's debts and the significant death duties due on her estate. As such, Robert has paid off all of Mabel's debts and death duties, but has not been allowed to fully enjoy the fruits of his inheritance on a timely basis due to the actions of the executors and now The Strickland Foundation.
- Robert was also given the only rights of use and habitation at Villa Parisio, with certain conditions under the terms of the final will and this has been accepted by The Strickland Foundation. Nevertheless even this basic human right was disregarded by the original executors and the Strickland Foundation who have instead chosen to compete with the heir and abuse the human rights of the Strickland family. Even the courts in 2018 have censured The Strickland Foundation for their behaviour.
- Mabel's wills of 1975 and 1979 can be seen on the TAB marked IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
Mabel Strickland in her twilight years - photograph taken by Lord Snowdon.
- Mabel's 1979 Will now contained a caveat regarding Robert's sole right to live in the Villa, with his family - that this should not interfere with the work of the Foundation. Despite this caveat any executor acting in a bonus pater familas manner would have adopted a common sense approach for a family's human right to live in a home peacefully, with full privacy.. This is apposite when it is known that Mabel made provision, in article 1 of her Strickland Foundation rules, that her Foundation could indeed operate from anywhere - stating clearly it could "transfer its seat to any other place in Malta". Any administrators, with decency and respect, and indeed common sense, would have invoked this right and relocated, In doing they would have easily prevented all this totally unnecessary tension with Mabel's heir. In persistently refusing to invoke this real right that Mabel left, The Strickland Foundation only demonstrates its deliberate campaign of harassment against Mabel's heir, in a Strickland family home.
- Nowhere in the will does Mabel suggest that her home is to be run as a conference or party venue, thereby directly competing with heir.
- Nowhere in the will did Mabel state that the sons of her Executors were to be afforded places on her Foundation in preference to her carefully chosen heir.
- Nowhere in the will does it say that Robert and his family were to be restricted to one bedroom and one bathroom. Mabel wanted her heir to live in her home and to continue to develop her legacy to Malta - not to be denied by the very people she placed into positions of trust to look after her heir and her estate.
- In fact, among Mabel's objectives for her Foundation was the upholding human rights. If ever there was an example of trampling on an heir's human right to privacy in a home - to live peacefully with his family - this is it - read more about this on the Tab marked THE FACTS.
Mabel checking the Reuters news.
Mabel Strickland - painted by Maltese artist Edward Caruana Dingli - Autumn 1945 in uniform as an official observer to the Nuremberg trials.