Jaggers settle on annulled marriage

MICK JAGGER and Jerry Hall reached what their legal minders called an amicable settlement in their pounds 30m divorce case yesterday, sparing themselves an expensive, bitter and potentially embarrassing court battle.

Although terms of the deal are secret, both sides claimed satisfaction. In the end, their appearance this week with their children in France, and a posed kiss at the premiere of Rogue Trade last month, were more significant than first realised.

In a statement after a private High Court hearing in London, their lawyers said the couple would remain friends. "Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall ... amicably and formally agreed to separate ... and to obtain an annulment. A mutually acceptable legal and financial settlement has been reached ..." The statement added: "They will always be linked through the ... love they have for their four children and their determination to both play their full part as parents."

But behind the cordial words their lawyers will have been forcefully making their points. Against Hall's financial claim, rumoured to be pounds 30m, Jagger's lawyers would have argued that their Hindu wedding in Bali in 1991 was invalid.

Lawyers said use of the word "annulment" in the announcement seemed to imply the couple had agreed to the marriage being declared null and void, rather than to a divorce. This would mean the marriage never existed in English law, which would have substantially reduced Hall's claim.

She had been seeking custody of the children but there is no mention as to what kind of custody and access agreements were reached.

Hall, 43, started proceedings in January after learning that the Brazilian model Luciana Morad, 29, was pregnant after a fling with Jagger, 55.

Jagger has a big share in the Rolling Stones industry. His fortune includes four properties worth millions. His annual income is estimated at pounds 12m. Hall wanted her sole name on the deeds of their mansion in Richmond upon Thames, south-west London.

Her original petition cited "repeated" adultery but if press cuttings on Jagger's conquests are only half-true, the more appropriate word would seem to be "obsessive". His bedpost is not so much notched as whittled to a fine point. When Hall left the singer Bryan Ferry in 1977 for Jagger, he was married to Bianca Jagger. They divorced in 1979 but Jagger was by then already being linked not only to the Texan model but to the heiress Catherine Guinness and Lord Longford's granddaughter, Natasha Fraser. By 1982 he was spotted with the New York clubber Gwen Rivers and the singer Nadine Expert. He continued to collect models throughout the Eighties, and months after his wedding to Hall he was reported to be romancing the model Lisa Barbuscia, 29.

He then went on holiday to Thailand with the model Carla Bruni, 38, in a move that provoked Hall to move out and threaten divorce. She threatened divorce again in the mid-Nineties but this year she was serious.

Battling Lawyers

The Jaggers' much trailed court battle was set up as a David and Goliath clash between Jerry Hall's divorce specialist, Sandra Davis and the little-known tax lawyer, Joyce Smyth, representing Mick Jagger.

Ms Davis is credited as the lawyer who helped secure Princess Diana's pounds 17m divorce settlement. She has a reputation as a tough but astute negotiator. Recently she has been gaining a reputation for being involved in child abduction cases. She has two children and heads the family law department at one of the leading City law firms, Mishcon de Reya. As one of the "names" in family law practice she is a member of an unofficial "magic circle" of lawyers who command the highest fees.

In contrast, Ms Smyth has little matrimonial law experience. She is the Rolling Stones' tax lawyer, and has known Mick Jagger and his family for 10 years. When she left her practice with a large City law firm in 1997 to set up a two-partner firm, Smyth Barkham, Jagger was one of the clients who followed her. However, even in tax lawyer circles she is little known. Also a mother of two, she not only knows Jagger's children well but has an intricate knowledge of his finances and business dealings. Rather than find a high-powered divorce lawyer, Jagger has decided to rely on Ms Smyth and not reveal details of all his commercial and personal arrangements to another lawyer.

Some lawyers argued that the question mark over the legal validly of the 1991 Hindu marriage gave Jagger a strong hand in the negotiations, thus allowing him to resist the temptation to instruct a matrimonial specialist.

While the focus of the legal battle has been on the two women solicitors the two male barristers would have also played an important part. Jerry Hall was advised by Nicholas Mostyn QC while Mick Jagger had Tim Scott QC.