The only surviving signatory of the will which is likely to see Sinn Féin receive about £2.5 million has said that she was not present when it was discussed with the solicitor.
Carmel Brady, a legal secretary in the market town of Cootehill in Co Cavan, was one of two witnesses to the will of William Edward Hampton on June 27 1997.
Ms Brady’s signature is on the document immediately after that of Mr Hampton and before that of the solicitor, Niall Dolan.
Mr Dolan, a leading solicitor in the Republic, died five years ago.
Ms Brady, who is now a Fine Gael councillor, told the News Letter that she would have witnessed a lot of wills in her job and the nature of what Mr Hampton said in the document did not strike her as unusual at the time.
“If somebody said in a will ‘I’m leaving £1 million to somebody’, you would register [that],” she said.
However, the way in which the will was framed meant that it did not refer to the scale of his assets.
“I kind of do remember the man coming in and out – but until I saw the picture there today on the [news] website, it didn’t register with me at all.”
She said that Mr Hampton had visited the office on several occasions, “always on his own” and that he “had a little tweed coat always on him and a little pair of glasses”.
She said that he had come in on a couple of occasions to work on the will with the solicitor, saying that “he was only visiting the area” and he was originally from England.
She said that she would only have been present when the will was being signed, not when it was being discussed with the solicitor and written.
Ms Brady said that it was only in about the last decade that solicitors would routinely ask someone to write down details of bank account numbers, stocks and shares or other assets, “so you would never actually know what someone’s assets were unless they told you”.