The Daily Mirror published the following article by Paul Foot
on September 13th 1991 under the banner heading:
"Freddie's vanishing fortune".
Andrews, 62, has to live on an official allowance of £25 a week - even though he was left a £1
million fortune by his father.
His sister Eileen, who looks after him night and day, believes Freddie's huge inheritance was plundered by a swindler - and that the legal authorities won't help her find out what has happened.
A Royal Ulster Constabulary detective who investigated her allegations and found them justified was shot dead in mysterious circumstances.
The born-again speculator
Fred Andrews, a prosperous and popular businessman in the Northern Ireland
motor trade, was profoundly distressed when his sixth and youngest child, Freddie, was
permanently brain-damaged by a botched operation in childhood.
Before Mr Andrews died in 1972 he gave all his wealth, including property in central Belfast worth at least £1 million, to Freddie.
Family solicitors were instructed to ensure that the fortune should be used to make Freddie - whose mental age is 10 - as happy and comfortable as possible.
Within months of Mr Andrews' death, his grief-stricken widow was approached by a bible- thumping, Born-Again Christian called Charles Gilpin. Gilpin persuaded her to shift the management of Freddie's fortune to what he called "a great little solicitor". This turned out to be Mr. Herbert Wright, who had only just qualified and was working at Gilpin's solicitors, Tughan and Co.
Gilpin told Mrs Andrews that she and Freddie couldn't afford their spacious family home. Sadly, they moved to a smaller, much less comfortable house in Belmont, Belfast.
This shocked the Andrews family. In 1979 they placed Freddie's affairs in the hands of Northern Ireland's Official Solicitor.
Later that year solicitor Herbert Wright sold one of Freddie Andrews' most valuable properties to a British firm called Ryland for £375,000.
Ryland were told that Freddie had sold the showroom in 1977 to a company connected to Charles Gilpin for only £35.000. Freddie's sister Eileen knew that was wrong. She demanded an explanation.
The death of a detective
She didn't get one from Charles Gilpin. He died in 1983. The official Solicitor
couldn't help her either. So she called in the Royal Ulster Constabulary Fraud Squad.
A thorough inquiry was carried out over two-and-a-half years by Det. Con. Mervyn Patterson.
He gave Eileen and 11-page preliminary report which sharply criticised the way Freddie's estate had been handled, both before and after Freddie's affairs were taken over by the courts.
In 1983, much against his will, Patterson was taken off the case.
Eileen has nothing but praise for his inquiries. She said: "One evening in 1986, he came to see me
"He complained once again that his questions about Freddie's case were not being answered in high places."
Three days later, DC Patterson was dead. He was found on the foreshore of Belfast Lough, his head blasted to pieces by a shotgun.
His hands were tied with a pair of tights and his feet bound loosely with rope. An 11-hour search by police failed to find a weapon.
The inquest in 1987 was told that Mr Patterson was unstable, that he drank a lot and that he had written to the police warning that he would commit suicide.
The coroner concluded that he had committed suicide to make it look as though he had been murdered.
Fall of a great little solicitor
In 1983, Eileen Wright moved in with Freddie to look after him.
She went on asking questions. She wrote to Ryland asking how they had bought her brother's showroom when he had never sold it.
She complained to the Belfast Law Society about Herbert Wright and his law firm Tughan and Co.
The man in charge of complaints on the Law Society Council at the time was Mr Tom Burgess, of Tughan and Co.
He writes to me: "I immediately disqualified myself from all meetings and took no part at any stage of the proceedings involving Mr Wright, or our firm."
The investigation showed that the showroom never belonged to Mr Gilpin's company and so could never have been sold by it. Mr Herbert Wright was suspended from practicing as a solicitor for three years and admonished.
He was then arrested and charged with misrepresenting ownership of the showroom. In January 1989 he pleaded guilty, and was given a suspended prison sentence of 18 months.
Tughan and Co. were cleared by the Law Society of any offence.
Mr Burgess writes to me that he and his colleagues were dismayed and angry at Mr Wright's behaviour, but could not accept any responsibility for his crime since none of them even knew that Freddie Andrews was handicapped.
THE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
Freddie Andrews should be in the money today.
His showroom and some other properties in central Belfast were eventually sold legally - to the building firm Laing and the Department of the Environment for a total of £450,000.
Yet Freddie's allowance is still £25 a week.
Eileen wants to know why. She writes endlessly - to the Official Solicitor, the Prime Minister, the Lord chancellor and Roy Beggs, Ulster Unionist MP, who has asked questions in Parliament.
The authorities all insist that Freddie's financial affairs have been fully investigated and settled by a judge - and are none of Eileen's business. They all treat her as a bit of a nuisance.
Not long ago she wrote to Laing to ask about the price they paid for her brother's property. Laing sent her copies of two letters to them from A.J. Reilly of their Belfast solicitors, Carson and McDowell.
The FIRST letter (October 2 1987) revealed: "The Official Solicitor, speaking off the record and quite candidly, advises that Mrs Wright is dangerous and inaccurate."
The SECOND letter (November 3 1987) advised: "The plot is very thick and the best course of action is to keep silent and work only with Official Solicitor."
Eileen Wright wrote to me in desperation two years ago. I visited her at her home and found her cheerfully determined, neither dangerous nor inaccurate.
In April this year, after months of research, I wrote a long letter to the Official Solicitor in Belfast, it asked a series of detailed questions, including:
1. "WHY have Mrs Wright, who looks after her brother, feeds him, dresses him and entertains him, and all other members of the family been denied access to her brother's accounts?
2. "I UNDERSTAND that Mr Andrews gets an income from your office of £25 a week. Is that not a very small sum for a man who has been taken from his home where he was living, where his father died, and in now living in much less comfortable surroundings?
3. "Do you believe that when Mr Andrews senior left his fortune to his son, he imagined that £25 a week was a suitable sum for him to be living on?"
I pointed out that properties had been sold for £450,000, which would produce an income far greater than £25 a week. I asked whether anyone in the Official Solicitor's office had called Mrs Wright "dangerous", and, if so, how they justified the smear. On May 20 the Official Solicitor, Mr C.P. McRandal, sent his reply:
"Having carefully considered the points which you make and the questions which you ask, I have come to the conclusion that it would be quite improper for me to comment."