There was never going to be a good time. But when the truth finally emerged, it couldn’t have been at a more inopportune moment. Mark Webb was driving to work at eight in the morning when his wife Lydia rang.
‘I was in the fast lane of the M4 heading towards Reading,’ he recalls. ‘I picked up the call on the hands-free and said, “Hi, what’s the problem?” because Lydia wouldn’t normally call so early.
She said, “I’ve got something I need to tell you. You’re not the father of Elspeth. Dave Mottram is.” ’
It was a shattering revelation and one that set in motion an extraordinary chain of events.
For what might have been a painful but private matter became very public when Mark took his now ex-wife and her lover to court in a bid to claim compensation for the 17 years he had spent bringing up Elspeth, believing her to be his daughter.
Mark’s claim failed and ten days ago the Court of Appeal refused him permission to appeal against the ruling. Since then the ‘paternity fraud’ case has sparked a passionate debate about the rights of fathers.
In last week’s Mail on Sunday, Lydia defended her actions while Mr Mottram has also had his say, claiming he did not know that Elspeth was his daughter. Yet throughout, and for all the conjecture and comment, Mark remained silent.
Now, in an exclusive interview, the 47-year-old production manager for an engineering company explains why he took the controversial and much-criticised decision to try to recoup the money he had spent bringing up Elspeth.