Earl Spencer accused of being serial adulterer

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The Independent Online
Earl Spencer was accused of committing adultery with up to 12 women yesterday as a South African court began the first leg of what is likely to be an acrimonious divorce from his estranged wife.

Jeremy Gauntlett, representing Lady Spencer, said the earl (pictured above) had "lived an adulterer's life" - a claim strenuously denied outside court last night by Earl Spencer's lawyers.

The hearing in the high court at Cape Town will decide whether divorce proceedings should continue in Britain or South Africa. Lady Spencer wants them to be heard in Britain, where the couple were married eight years ago, because her settlement would be greater in the country where most of her husband's assets are held.

Mr Gauntlett told the court the divorce case would include details of Lord Spencer's affairs with up to a dozen women. "Within months of the marriage the plaintiff was unfaithful," he said. "There had been a whole series of liaisons thereafter."

He called a British family lawyer, Jeremy Posnansky, as a witness and asked whether Earl Spencer's alleged adultery would affect the size of a settlement in a British hearing. Mr Posnansky said it would.

Last night, a spokesman for Earl Spencer, who would like the hearing to be held in South Africa, said: "These are allegations that have been made by Lady Spencer's counsel and are strenuously denied by Lord Spencer."

The earl, brother of Diana, Princess of Wales,moved to South Africa last year. Lady Spencer, the former model Victoria Lockwood, moved to a property nearby after overcoming a series of eating disorders.

The earl struck a nerve with the public at his sister's funeral service in September when he criticised press intrusion and alluded to the royal family's cold treatment of her when she was alive. There was undisguised criticism also of the Windsors as a dysfunctional family and a vow that Princes William and Harry would not be stifled by them. It was no wonder, he said, that Diana had suffered from eating disorders.