The businessman tricked by his ex-wife into believing he was the father of three sons for 21 years has defended himself against critics.
The Mail on Sunday last week broke the exclusive story of how Richard Mason, 55, discovered in 2016 that he could not be the boys’ father when he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, which leaves 98 per cent of male sufferers infertile.
He sued his ex-wife Kate for paternity fraud and won a £250,000 out- of-court settlement in November.
After our story was picked up by hundreds of newspapers and other media around the world, some commentators accused Mr Mason of being ‘narcissistic’ and ‘selfish’ and having little regard for his sons.
Richard and ex-wife Kate with the children Willem in the centre and twins Joel and Edward in red
Mr Mason has candidly admitted that his wounded pride over the deception did ‘trump’ his concern for the boys when he decided to go public.
But the millionaire co-founder of Moneysupermarket.com last night said he would not have taken legal action or gone public if the three had still been children but that, as they were adults, he hoped they would eventually understand.
Asked if the blow to his pride after being deceived had outstripped his concern for the boys’ welfare, he confessed: ‘It may not be the answer you want to hear, but yes, I think it did.
‘However, neither launching the case nor going public were steps I took without a lot of thought. For a start, the boys are now adults and if they were children I wouldn’t have spoken to The Mail on Sunday or any media.
Richard Mason and his new wife Emma. he settled out of court with his ex for £250,000
‘I purposely didn’t name the boys in last week’s story and I made sure any photos published were from at least ten years ago.
‘But I also wanted to be honest and end all the secrets and lies. They’re very clever boys and because of the way I brought them up to do the right thing, I hoped they – now grown men – would understand that I needed to take that decision.’
Mr Mason insisted that he wanted to show the boys, Willem, 23, and 19-year-old twins, Joel and Edward, a better example than his ex-wife Kate, 54, who had lied to them all their lives about the identity of the father. ‘The boys have heard their mother lie over years and years, whether about the affair or their paternity,’ he said.
‘I wanted to give them a better role model.’
He pointed out that it had been vital that it was proven whether he was or was not the father because of the nature of cystic fibrosis, a condition which dramatically limits sufferers’ lives.
‘I have a genetic disease and until two months ago my ex-wife was insisting the boys were biologically related to me, which would have made them carriers, or possibly even sufferers of cystic fibrosis,’ he said.
Mr Mason’s comments came after Joel accused his father of being ‘manipulative’. The 19-year-old student added that he did not share Mr Mason’s desire to know the identity of his biological father.
In response, Mr Mason said: ‘Any parent of a teenager will know that you get a different opinion from them, depending if you ask in the morning, afternoon and evening.
‘Joel’s a cheeky scamp and I’ve sent him a message to tell him so. When the dust has settled, I feel confident me and the boys will get our relationship back on track.’
Kate Mason declined to comment.