An investment banker who claimed an imposter stood for him at his own wedding has lost a bitter divorce battle after losing an appeal against a ruling deeming his marriage “valid”.
Former UBS banker Amit Goyal, 36 told court his wife, Ankita, married "another Amit Goyat" at a ceremony in a four star hotel in the Indian city of Meerut while he relaxed at home in September 2003.
The reluctant husband claimed Mrs Goyal, 33, could neither divorce him, nor claim financial compensation, because they were never married in the first place.
His testimony was dismissed as "unreliable" at an earlier hearing last year, confirming that "there was a valid marriage between the couple".
Challenging that decision at the Court of Appeal, the former banker pointed to a mysterious thumb print on his marriage certificate and an absence of wedding photos in an attempt to prove he was not present at the ceremony on 15 September.
Mr Goyal also told court he is saddled with debt amounting to £300,000 - despite earning £185,000-a-year, plus bonuses, before he was made redundant. His appeal was rejected.
The couple first met on Shaadi.com, an Indian dating site, and married soon after in Meerut, India, with the consent of Mrs Goyal's senior army officer father. They shared a home in Canary Wharf and have a daughter aged six.
As part of the couple's divorce proceedings, Judge Mark Everall QC said: "Mrs Goyal and her parents were happy to go along with the plan. Mr Goyal was a well-educated young man with evidently good prospects in the well-paid world of international finance."
The judge added that "the overwhelming probability on all the evidence is that Mrs Goyal did not marry, and did not intend to marry, a different Amit Goyal on 15th September, 2003”
Mr Goyal was working in London at the time and had been accepted to INSEAD business school in Paris, but agreed to fly back to India to marry Mrs Goyal in a “short” ceremony in a bid to speed up her application for a French visa.
However, the banker insisted that he was not present when the vows were made and his subsequent marriage celebrated three days after was invalid- even though the groom's name on the wedding certificate from the previous ceremony matched his own.
He claimed that he "not read the certificate carefully enough" and only noticed the “discrepancies” a year after they had separated.
The pair moved to Paris soon after the wedding took place and eventually settled in London. Their relationship "irretrievably broke down" when Mrs Goyal moved out of the family home in 2011.
At the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Kitchin said: "Standing back and having regard to all the evidence and Judge Everall's reasoning, I do not detect that he had any real difficulty in arriving at his conclusion."