F1 boss's wife files for divorce

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The Independent Online

The wife of Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has filed for divorce, it was announced today.

Slavica Ecclestone will be represented by divorce lawyer Liz Vernon.

Ms Vernon made headlines in 2004 when she represented the wife of Arsenal and England footballer Ray Parlour in their divorce, winning her a deal giving her a third of her ex-husband's future earnings for four years.

This year's Sunday Times Rich List estimated Mr Ecclestone's personal fortune as in excess of £2 billion.

A spokeswoman for Mrs Ecclestone said today's announcement had been prompted by media speculation about the couple's personal life.

Simon Bethel, a family law specialist with law firm Mills & Reeve, said: "Given Mr and Mrs Ecclestone were reputed to be worth £2.4 billion in the 2008 Rich List, this case may see the highest award to a wife in legal history.

"Part of the family wealth is already reputed to be controlled by Mrs Ecclestone through a Jersey-based trust fund, and thus the area of dispute may revolve around quantifying the value of Mr Ecclestone's motor racing empire - that rather modest concern known as Formula One."

He added that if Mrs Ecclestone filed for divorce in the UK, she could be awarded as much as half of her husband's fortune.

He said: "If Mrs Ecclestone is keen to push for a substantial award, and on the face of it there is no reason why she should not, she could maybe end up with a third or a half of his fortune."

Mr Ecclestone, 77, is chief executive of Alpha Prema which owns Formula One.

Last year he added another sporting string to his bow when he took over Championship football club Queens Park Rangers with Renault team boss Flavio Briatore.