Top judge struggling to stem woman’s efforts to unseal Princess Margaret’s will

Princess Margaret: will sealed
Photo: David S. Paton

There is no kind of order available to prevent a woman who claims to be the late Princess Margaret’s daughter from bringing repeated “nonsensical” claims in an effort to unseal her will, the president of the Family Division has found.

However, Sir James Munby said he would take personal responsibility for deciding whether any future claims should be issued.

Sir James said that he has twice in recent weeks struck out applications by Malika Benmusa to unseal Princess Margaret’s will, in the second of which he characterised the claim as being “a farrago of delusional nonsense”.

In a third ruling, he recorded that the second application was accompanied by a copy of a death certificate of a woman who was born in 1904 and died in 1997, and who, according to Ms Benmusa, was her late aunt.

“That, as I pointed out, was nonsense, because, quite obviously, ‘a woman born in 1904 could not have been, as the applicant asserts, her mother’s elder sister if, as she also asserts, her mother was HRH Princess Margaret’.”

Ms Benmusa has since made two further applications in an effort to discredit the death certificate on which she previously sought to rely. “This is all nonsense. Her latest applications must each suffer the same fate as the previous two: I strike them out,” the judge said.

Sir James said her wasting of the court’s time – “a phrase I use advisedly and deliberately” – has been facilitated by the “surprising fact” that an application of the kind made by Ms Benmusa is, unusually, one that can be made without paying any court fee.

“I cannot help thinking that even someone like Ms Benmusa might be deterred from such forensic incontinence if she had to pay a fee.

“What is to be done? As a matter of high constitutional principle (1) court staff cannot refuse to issue process – such a decision can be taken only by a judge – and (2) a judge cannot make an order absolutely barring access to the court; even a vexatious litigant so declared, or a litigant subject to a civil restraint order or a Grepe v Loam order (see Grepe v Loam (1887) 37 ChD 168) retains the right to apply to a judge for permission to bring proceedings.

“So, there is no kind of order I can properly make to prevent Ms Benmusa continuing to bombard the court with further nonsensical applications which will have to be put before a judge.”

What he could do, however, was to direct that if any further application was received from Ms Benmusa, it was to be put before him before being issued, upon which he would either direct that it be returned, unissued, to Ms Benmua, or that it should be issued, “whereupon it can then be considered by the president of the Family Division in the usual way”.

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