Tycoon begins record divorce appeal

By John Joseph LONDON, Reuters

A British multi-millionaire began a landmark attempt on Tuesday to overturn a 48 million pound divorce settlement, believed to be the biggest in the country’s legal history.

Insurance underwriter John Charman, 54, wants the Court of Appeal to cut ex-wife Beverley’s payout to 20 million pounds, a sum he says would be “impossible for any reasonable person to spend in their lifetime”.

His lawyers say it was unfair to split his fortune 50/50 because his wife had failed to support his business projects and refused to move to the tax haven of Bermuda to avoid tax bills.

They also argue that the High Court judge was wrong to take into account a 68 million pounds trust fund when deciding Charman’s fortune.

Last year, judge Mr Justice Coleridge awarded Charman’s former wife half of his money, saying it had been a long marriage during which all the wealth was generated from scratch.

“This was a long marriage where the parties started with nothing and all the wealth was effectively created, I find, during its subsistence,” he said.

The appeal is expected to last three days with the final ruling likely to be studied closely by lawyers negotiating the divorce pay-off between Paul McCartney and his estranged wife Heather Mills.

Leading divorce barrister Martin Pointer represents both Beverley Charman and Mills.

John and Beverley Charman met at school in 1969 when they were teenagers and divorced in 2003 after 27 years marriage.