Churchill may use lottery cash to pay ex-wife

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The trust which received pounds 12.5m of lottery money for the sale of the Churchill archive, amid national fury, said it would consider allowing Winston Churchill, the MP and grandson of the former prime minister, to take out pounds 4.5m for part of his divorce settlement.

Peregrine Churchill, the 82-year-old nephew of Sir Winston and one of three trustees, said they had not been approached yet, but they would consider an application from Mr Churchill, 55, who was seen as the driving force behind the sale of his grandfather's papers last year.

As part of his divorce settlement from Minnie, his wife of 32 years, Mr Churchill is allegedly offering to set up a new trust with money from the sale. Their children, John, 20, Jennie, 28, Marina, 27, and Randolph, 30, would benefit from the fund, while Mrs Churchill would live off the proceeds from any investments.

Peregrine Churchill said he and the other two trustees, Ian Montrose, the family solicitor, and Lord Digby, would consider any requests for money once all the lottery grant had been paid by the Treasury.

He said: "He hasn't asked us yet, and if he did the trustees would have to consider it on its merits. They have the power to do anything because the trust allows for the fact that conditions change, but we would not just give money away because we like someone."

The Churchill papers were the only valuable asset left to the family when Sir Winston died in 1965. According to his family, he was anxious his offspring should not suffer poverty as he did in his youth, and he drew up the trust after the Second World War, which specified the beneficiaries would be his direct descendants in the male line for four generations.

The collection, known as the Chartwell Papers, contains almost everything Sir Winston wrote before 1945, including letters home from prep school, notes on the abdication, and drafts of wartime speeches, including "we shall fight them on the beaches".

One of the most outspoken critics of the sale was stoical about the reported intention of Mr Churchill to create a new trust. Dr John Charmley, the historian and Churchill biographer, said he still considered that the nation had in effect bought something it already owned a large proportion of.

But he said: "You can't deny Minnie the fact she deserves a substantial sum, but quite whether the British public should be involved in funding it is a different matter."

Mr Churchill, MP for Davyhulme in Manchester who lists his hobbies as "country pursuits" in Who's Who, is reportedly anxious to marry Luce Danielson, 53, a Belgian jewellery designer. He previously had a five-year affair with Soraya Khashoggi, former wife of the arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. He was also linked to Jan Cushing, an American heiress, who said of his wife: "If she has a good lawyer, she'll demand half his money, and she deserves it. She's given him her life." Mr Churchill was unavailable for comment.