Sunday, November 11, 2012
British judge hits out at wives who demand 'completely inappropriate' divorce payments
Large divorce payouts awarded by British judges in the past have made marriage in Britain not readily distinguishable from prostitution
The days of wives receiving multi-million pound divorce payouts from wealthy husbands could be numbered after one of the country's top family judges slammed such claims.
Lord Justice Thorpe said payouts in 'big money' divorces, where wives feel it is 'reasonable' to ask for millions to maintain the lifestyle they are accustomed to, should be consigned to history, adding: 'We only talk about "needs" when there isn't a lot to go round.'
The judge made the comments when presiding over a case in which multi-millionaire hotel boss Andrew Morris Davies, is battling to get a £2.75million divorce payout awarded to his ex-wife Debra Ann Davies cut.
Mr Davies was 'in love' with his business, The Cardiff Hotel, in exclusive Norfolk Square, Bayswater, West London, and described himself as 'a force of nature' to Judge Martin O'Dwyer who made the award to his ex-wife.
She helped run the hotel for 13 years before the couple split, and in August last year, Judge O'Dwyer recognised her contribution to the success of the business when he awarded her a £2.2million lump sum, plus the £550,000 former matrimonial home, in Friars Way, Acton.
Mr Davies reacted angrily to the award, insisting that - whilst his wife was 'the second best receptionist' he ever had - she should not get a share of the hotel's value because she was just a paid employee who 'simply did her duties'.
Today he asked Lord Justice Thorpe, Lord Rimer and Lord Justice Elias sitting in London's Appeal Court to slash her payout.
The court heard the hotel had been passed to Mr Davies and his two sisters by their parents, and Mr and Mrs Davies bought out his siblings' shares during their marriage.
Having heard that Judge O'Dwyer had assessed Mrs Davies' claim, 'in terms of pure need', at £1.55million and had then upped her payout to £2.7million because of her contribution to the success of the hotel, Lord Justice Thorpe said:
'Any mention of needs is completely inappropriate in a case of this scale. We only talk about needs when there isn't a lot to go round. 'In a case like this, which is loosely categorised as 'big money', needs should not make much of a contribution to judicial reasoning.
'The bigger the family fortune, the less relevant needs became. In big money cases, the wife will often get twice what she needs. I don't see what bearing needs have in this case.'
Lords Justice Thorpe, Rimer and Elias reserved their decision on Mr Davies' appeal, to be delivered at a later date.
The new Archbishop of Canterbury believes in God!
Rare in the Anglican episcopacy
His style is self-deprecating, his family background surprisingly colourful. The great unanswered question, though, is just why did oilman Justin Welby throw up his six-figure salary and executive lifestyle to become a priest?
Yesterday, 56-year-old Dr Welby — ordained barely 20 years ago and appointed Bishop of Durham only last autumn — was named the new Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church of England’s most senior post and spiritual head of 77 million Anglicans worldwide.
As Damascene conversions go, Dr Welby’s story must be classified as positively Biblical. The child of a broken home (his parents divorced when he was just three), he went to Eton and Cambridge, then spent years working in Paris and London, climbing the ladder in the tough but rewarding oil business.
Then in 1989, at the age of 33, he threw it all up to enter Cranmer Hall theological college in Durham, and by 1992 he was a curate. (Given his appointment this week, it is entertaining to note that the late Bishop of Kensington, John Hughes, when approached by Justin Welby, said: ‘There is no place for you in the Church of England. I have interviewed a thousand for ordination, and you don’t come in the top thousand.’)
At a Lambeth Palace press conference to announce his appointment yesterday, the Archbishop elect signalled the start of a battle with David Cameron over same-sex marriage, declaring his opposition to the Coalition’s plans to allow gay couples to marry.
His confirmation, in a single sentence, that he backs a strong line against gay marriage means an inevitable clash between the Church and the Government, though he went on to say: ‘I am always averse to the language of exclusion.’
His new role is affirmation of his meteoric rise, on the back of self-effacing observations such as ‘Let’s be clear, I’m one of the thicker bishops in the Church of England’; and, as he rose to make his maiden speech in the House of Lords last spring, a declaration that he was ‘astonished’ to be there at all.
As for his own vocation, his explanation for the fundamental switch in his life is simply to say: ‘I was unable to get away from a sense of God calling.’
There is a deep-seated tragedy which undoubtedly pulled him, and his wife Caroline, 55, a classics teacher, to prayer. This was the death in a car crash in France of their firstborn child, seven-month-old Johanna. The baby was in a carry cot in the car with Caroline, though Justin was not travelling with them. ‘It was a very dark time for us, but in a strange way it actually brought us closer to God,’ he said recently.
That same year, the Welbys, who now have two sons and another three daughters (as well as Katherine, there is Tim, 28, Peter, 23, currently studying Arabic, Eleanor, 20, and Hannah, 17), moved back to England. Soon after, he accepted the senior position of group treasurer to an oil exploration group, Enterprise Oil in London.
Significantly, he also became a member of the congregation at the evangelical Holy Trinity Brompton in central London, which has been at the centre of the Alpha Course movement (a highly popular nationwide ten-week introduction to the faith).
But could there have been another reason why Justin Welby was motivated to pull away from Mammon and turn to God?
In Paris, he had worked as a finance project manager for the French oil company Elf Aquitaine (now part of the global giant Total) during a period when, it later emerged, some of the senior executives at its palatial offices near the Champs-Elysee were running fraud rackets involving corrupt African dictators, compliant members of the Gallic establishment, and a vast network of criminally minded middle men.
Secret dealings went on relentlessly in which executives effectively used the company as a private bank, with hundreds of millions spent on art, villas, women and political lobbying. One figure famously used company money to finance his multi-million-pound divorce.
It was one of France’s greatest scandals, summed up by investigating judge Eva Joly in these words: ‘I see so many resemblances, in France and abroad, between the corruption of the state and mafias of various sorts — the same networks, the same henchmen, the same banks, the same marble villas.’
A lawyer involved in the scandal says: ‘The effect on innocent young employees like Justin Welby when the truth emerged must have been enormous. No wonder he couldn’t get away fast enough from big business. No wonder he is a man who, it is quite obvious, wants to do good.’
So it is no surprise that Dr Welby has brought his anger over such greed into his ministry. In the House of Lords, he has challenged the ‘sins’ of the big banks, and used that Old Testament word ‘usury’ to condemn the payday ‘loan sharks’ with their sky-high interest rates.
Not only does he understand the devious workings of the City, he has become the object of a wry joke in ecclesiastical circles, which goes: ‘How astonishing — an Archbishop of Canterbury who actually believes in God.’
His contemporaries at Eton included the Tory minister Oliver Letwin, and he is just a few months older than other notable Etonians such as Charles Moore and Dominic Lawson — former editors of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph.
While the Prime Minister — yet another OE, of course — will be sensitive to criticism that Bishop Welby’s appointment will only increase the school’s dominance of the Establishment, his down-to-earth likeability should allay Mr Cameron’s concerns.
He and Caroline — who met at Cambridge and have been married for 33 years — sent their five children to state schools. Meanwhile, the clergyman himself has plenty of experience of the real world, having shaken hands with warlords and been threatened at gunpoint during his ministry in Africa on behalf of a peace and reconciliation project based in Coventry.
Where the new head of the Church will find disagreement with the Prime Minister is on the thorny issue of gay marriage. [The Prime Minister favours it. His Grace does not]
So there will be battles ahead. But they will be fought with charm and good humour.
It may be a long way from the cloisters of Eton to the African badlands, but Justin Welby has trodden that path with empathy and courage.
Now, he must turn his considerable talents to the stewardship of the Church of England — a monumental challenge for any man.
The new Archbishop will replace Dr Rowan Williams who is to become Master of Magdalene College in Cambridge
Britain could leave European Court of Human Rights
Britain could leave the European Convention on Human Rights after rows over prisoner voting and the deportation of foreign criminals, the Justice Secretary has said.
Chris Grayling, who took over the job in September, said he has not ruled out an exit from European human rights laws, even though the Attorney General has told MPs there is "no question of the UK withdrawing from the convention".
Dominic Grieve, the Government's most senior lawyer, said in the House of Commons last month that Britain "strongly supports" the convention and it must be allowed to "continue its very good work".
But in an interview with the Conservative Home website, Mr Grayling said: "Well, again I'm not ruling it in and not ruling it out. I think it would be irresponsible at the start of a process.
"We've got to go through a process. We've got to deal with this issue, because people feel very strongly about it. I don't want to start with a conclusion."
Mr Grayling has previously said the Conservatives will go into the next election promising a new relationship with the European Court of Human Rights.
He has made it clear that "no change is not an option" after the Strasbourg court ruled against the UK ban on prisoner voting and stalled the deportation of terror suspect Abu Qatada.
Many Conservatives MPs want a new relationship before 2015, arguing that the court is undermining the House of Commons right now.
They are worried about the court over-riding the sovereignty of parliament, after the court ruled Britain's blanket ban on prisoner suffrage is illegal.
David Cameron has said inmates will not be given the vote, as parliament already decided 18 months ago to keep the ban.
This has set Britain on a collision course with Strasbourg, as ministers try to find a way to work around the ruling.
Now Brussels takes aim at the Famous Five! Books portraying 'traditional' families could be barred
Books which portray ‘traditional’ images of mothers caring for their children or fathers going out to work could be barred from schools under proposals from Brussels.
An EU report claims that ‘gender stereotyping’ in schools influences the perception of the way boys and girls should behave and damages women’s career opportunities in the future.
Critics said the proposals for ‘study materials’ to be amended so that men and women are no longer depicted in their traditional roles would mean the withdrawal of children’s classics, such as Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series, Paddington Bear or Peter Pan.
The document, prepared by the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, also suggests EU-wide legislation is needed to tackle the way women are depicted in advertising during children’s television programmes.
It further complains about the number of women in EU parliaments, and floats the idea of fixed quotas on a minimum proportion of female MPs.
The report says: ‘Children are confronted with gender stereotypes at a very young age through television series, television advertisements, study materials and educational programmes, influencing their perception of how male and female characters should behave.
‘Special educational programmes and study materials should therefore be introduced in which men and women are no longer used in examples in their ‘traditional roles’, with the male as the breadwinner of the family and the female as the one who takes care of the children.’
The report adds: ‘With reference to media and advertisement, it must also be noted that unsupervised television viewing among children and youngsters starting at a very early age is on the rise.
‘Negative gender stereotypes can therefore have a significant influence on young women’s confidence and self-esteem, particularly on teenagers, resulting in a restriction of their aspirations, choices and possibilities for future career possibilities.’
Calling for EU ‘legislation’ to tackle the problem, the committee recommends: ‘Despite the EU’s commitment to equality between men and women, there is still a gap in legislation providing for non-discrimination against women and gender equality in the areas of social security, education and the media, emphasises the need for new legislation in these areas.’
The document calls on the European Commission to ‘take the issue of gender equality into account in all policy fields.’
Tim Aker, spokesman for Get Britain Out, a Eurosceptic campaign group, warned: ‘If the EU has its way, millions of youngster would be denied the pleasure of reading childhood classics such as Paddington Bear, Peter Pan or the Tiger Who Came to Tea because these books show mums and dads in so-called traditional roles.
‘The Eurozone is crumbling, millions are out of work and a generation of young Europeans face a bleak future. Yet the EU is spending its time concentrating on how to socially engineer our children. This politically correct report should be binned at once.’
June O’Sullivan, chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation, also criticised the draft recommendations. ‘We must not confuse political issues with how we present the world to children. The fact is most women take the caring roles and most men want to go out to work,’ she said.
‘You only need to stand at the school gates to see this. Stereotypes are such because they reflect a majority situation. Children are not easily fooled - they see what they see and no amount of manipulation of images will change their thinking.’
The proposals in the committee’s report are unlikely to win support from Britain. Brussels has been forced to postpone an attempt to set a legal quota for the proportion of women on company boards last month following opposition from the UK and some other member states.
The policy, championed by EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding, would make it mandatory for all publicly traded companies to fill 40 per cent of seats on their boards with women by 2020 or face hefty fines.
But opposition from several countries meant a postponement of in a vote on the issue last month. Miss Reding has vowed that that she ‘will not give up’ on her crusade, however, insisting: ‘Europe has a lot to gain from more diverse corporate boards.’
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.