Friday 23 March 2018

Wife fighting £400m divorce is broke

Caroline Gammell

The woman at the centre of a £400m (€465m) divorce case could be forced to abandon her court battle because she has run out of money.

Michelle Young was supposed to face her estranged husband Scot in Britain's High Court this week, but has had to postpone the hearing while she finds further funding.

For the last three years, the couple has been embroiled in a bitter fight over his alleged multi-million pound fortune which she says he is hiding and he claims he no longer exists.

Last December, Mr Young was ordered by the court to pay his wife £27,500 (€32,000) a month pending their divorce settlement but he has since been declared bankrupt.

At their last court appearance, Mrs Young said she was down to her last £13,000 (€15,000) of savings and owes £660,000 (€768,000) in unpaid legal fees.

She can now no longer afford to pay a lawyer and was unable to find legal representation for this week’s hearing. It has put back to an unknown later date.

Mrs Young, who lives with the couple’s two teenage daughters Scarlett and Sasha in a rented property in north London, said she is determined to fight on.

“We are fighting for what we deserve and what is rightly ours,” she told ITV Tonight. “I put a lot into this marriage and a lot into this relationship.

“We stared off together with nothing; this money was created during the marriage. That was 20 years of my life.”

Mrs Young, 45, said she had struggled to continue her legal battle: “I’ve almost run out of funds, my lawyer can’t represent me anymore.

“The court fees are so expensive and the lawyers. It’s just really difficult. It’s a very scary place to be in.”

Steven Philippsohn, senior partner of PCB Litigation, acted for Mrs Young for six months.

He said the case was effectively on hold until either party applied for it to be dismissed or the result of the bankruptcy investigation into Mr Young was known.

The couple, who used owned properties around the world, separated in 2006 after 11 years of marriage.

Mrs Young claims her husband stopped paying maintenance two years ago when she found out that he had a hidden fortune of around £400m.

He was given a suspended six-month jail sentence last year for contempt of court for failing to explain his financial situation.

The 47-year-old claims he has not only lost the money but owes an estimated £28m (€32.5m).

Since then, Mrs Young said she has had to sell more than £1million worth of jewellery to support herself and her children.

She claims she owes £23,000 (€28,000) in school fees and that her eldest daughter has been affected by the ongoing battle between her parents.

“She’s a pretty strong balanced girl but when I see a girl like her fall to pieces, I just hug her and say everything will be ok.

“Scarlet is doing her A-Levels. We don’t know much longer we can keep the girls at school and she was on the sofa curled up in a ball.

“As a mother I felt so helpless so vulnerable.”

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