A boy who believed an infertile multi-millionaire was his father has broken his silence and branded him "manipulative" – on the same day the entrepreneur made an emotional TV plea for him to make contact.
Joel Mason, 19, has spoken out publicly for the first time since MoneySupermarket.com co-founder Richard Mason revealed his heartbreak at finding out the three sons he had doted on for almost 20 years were another man’s.
The bombshell only came to light two years ago when a health diagnosis revealed Richard, 55, had been infertile since birth due to the genetic disorder cystic fibrosis.
DNA tests then confirmed he was not the biological father of Willem, now 23, Joel and twin brother Ed.
The secret was also concealed from the three boys – however today Joel said he has no desire to finding out who his real father is and has not fallen out with his mother over it.
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He told Mail Online: "It didn’t hurt me because he hadn’t been my dad for a few years. I felt nothing. I haven’t asked mum who our real dad is, I’m sure she’d tell me but I don’t want to know."
Joel, who says he hasn’t spoken to Richard for three years, has described him as "manipulative" and someone who loves attention, although insisted they were not "estranged".
The Nottingham University student also cannot comprehend why Richard is desperate to find out who their real dad is – even offering a reward for information – when the three boys are not interested.
He added: "I haven’t been speaking to him for a number of years because of his behaviour. He’s a very manipulative man, not the kind of person you want to be with. I started noticing this when I was 15.
"But he’s still my dad and I’m not going to look for my real one.
"He’s known for two years that he’s not our real dad so why do all this now?"
The student also said his twin Ed is the only one out of the three who is on speaking terms with Richard.
The businessman launched a legal bid against their mother – whom he is divorced from – and now lives with new wife Emma Louise Jones-Mason, 46, in Rhos on Sea, Wales.
His ex-wife Kate has yet to respond to the claims.
Meanwhile, Richard appeared on Good Morning Britain this morning and made an emotional plea to his children.
He said: "Boys, I haven’t done anything wrong at all.
"I love you and my door’s always open. I’ve got the kettle waiting to go on, a six pack of beer, just come round, you’ll get the biggest hug ever.
"Let’s have a cry, let’s just hug, let’s just get back to where we were before.
"And just have a word with your mum, tell her to stop being so daft."
He also confessed he wanted to "get a hammer" to confront her after the betrayal was revealed.
As he held back tears and struggled to speak, he said: "When something like that happens to you, you suddenly feel this betrayal, this bitterness and sort of anger you can’t explain. I’m still their dad.
"Rather than get a hammer and go and confront her, I thought ‘what can I do? We’re a civilised country’.
"I’ve always taught them to be straight forward and honest. What you should do is go to the law.
"It was like being hit by a hammer. It was like the world had just fallen away.
"I felt like on the one hand I’d just been told I had a terminal illness, on the other, finding out the boys weren’t mine was just very, very hard."
Heartbroken Richard almost took his own life after the crushing news he wasn’t the biological father of the children.
However he was stopped from killing himself by his love for ‘soul mate’ Emma Louise, who he married in 2014.
Now Richard is planning to write a book about his traumatic ordeal and plans to litter it with clues as to the identity of his ex’s lover.
His story came to light after he launched a legal bid to recover some of the £4million divorce settlement his ex-wife Kate received, and sued for paternity fraud.
Kate has since been ordered to pay £250,000 after a two-year legal case that allowed her to keep the identity of the real father a secret.
Richard believes that the same man fathered all three boys during an on/off four-year affair Kate, 54, embarked on in the late 1990s.
But she only confessed to the adultery in 2016, ten years on from their divorce, when he confronted her about the children’s paternity.
All she admitted was that he was a member of Barclays’ staff and they met up in a London hotel from time to time when she attended events as a union official.
She claimed they had sex on six to 12 occasions but used condoms and so she insisted Richard must be the dad.
Richard believes a possible clue to the identity of the real father is that Kate became interested in Judaism, insisted all three children were given Jewish middle names and refused to have them christened.
Although two of the boys still refuse to speak to him, he was overjoyed to receive a sweet text message from the third last month.
It read: "Dad, as I explained from the beginning you would never not be dad to me regardless of all this.
"Of course I’ll stay in touch, that will never change… I’m always here for you too and you will always be Dad. Love you x."
Richard said that discovering the boys were not his own left his life in pieces.
“You don’t know what’s real and what isn’t – it’s as if I’m living in The Matrix,” he said.
Richard hopes his book will lead to the mystery man being identified and is also offering £5,000 for information.
He said it was: “Not least for the boys’ sake because they will want to know who their real father is, even if, hopefully, they’ll always think of me as their dad.”
He added: "I still regard them as my boys even though I’m not their biological father, and I miss them so much."
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