McEwan 'victim of vengeful campaign'

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The Independent Online
THE NOVELIST Ian McEwan has been the victim of a vitriolic and vengeful campaign by his former wife, the High Court in London was told yesterday.

Penny Allen had at times been a "purveyor of half truths, twisted information, inaccuracies and false inferences", according to a judge at an earlier hearing during the couple's four-year battle for custody of their teenage sons.

Yesterday the novelist sat quietly in court as his barrister, Philip Cayford, argued that the full facts of the case should now be made public. In a rare move, Mr Justice Charles allowed public disclosure of some details of previous private court hearings. Mr Cayford read out several of Judge Paul Clark's findings from earlier hearings at Oxford County Court.

Yesterday's hearing permanently extended an injunction that bans Mrs Allen from dis-closing details of the custody battle. The 51-year-old spiritual healer, who recently went on the run in France with her youngest son, who has now been returned, appeared at a hearing earlier this week wearing a gag, while her fiance, Stephen Ismay Tremain, wore a makeshift nappy. She was not in court yesterday.

The High Court was told that Judge Clark had noted Mrs Allen's defiant attitude toward the court at an earlier hearing, which eventually granted sole custody of the boys, now 16 and 13, to Mr McEwan.

The novelist by contrast had been the "model of courtesy and restraint" and had maintained a "dignified silence", according to Judge Clark.

The High Court was told that the judge, who dealt with the couple's divorce in 1994 and subsequent custody cases, had found Mrs Allen to be a "self-centred" woman "more governed by her emotions than her intellect".

The court was told the county courdt judge had "substantially rejected" her allegations against her ex-husband. Mr McEwan, said Judge Clark, had an extraordinarily good relationship with his children.

The couple were initially granted joint custody and both agreed not to disclose details of their private lives. But Mrs Allen had broken the agreement. Last year she decided to move to France and take her children from Oxford to Brittany. In February 1999, Mr McEwan was given sole custody, and Mrs Allen was granted contact.

Mr Cayford said that Judge Clark had noted: "As in 1995 the mother is quite incapable of separating the wood from the trees ... she is obsessed with the past." Judge Clark had said: "Her life may lack the glamour of a decade ago when she was the wife of a successful novelist and money was no object."

By August this year, Mr Cayford said, Mr Tremain had started making "threatening and taunting" calls to the writer, which resulted in a new order banning him and Mrs Allen from harassing Mr McEwan.

Mr Justice Charles said it was in the overall public interest that he should make a permanent injunction against Mrs Allen and her fiance as there was substantial risk she would continue to repeat the allegations.