pounds 18m lottery couple in court battle

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The Independent Online
The first National Lottery jackpot winner, the Asian factory worker who won pounds 18m last year, is seeking a High Court declaration to prevent his wife getting access to the fortune.

But his wife has launched counter proceedings, claiming that the money is owned jointly.

Mukhtar Mohidin, 40, won pounds 17.8m in December. The press attention was so great that he and his wife, Sayeeda, 33, who have three children, were forced to change their name and move from Blackburn to a pounds 350,000 house in the Home Counties.

Mr Mohidin, who filed the writ on Monday, is seeking a legal declaration that because he bought the lottery ticket with his own money he is "solely and beneficially" entitled to the winnings.

He also wants the High Court to say that he is not bound by a bank authority he signed in March giving his wife permission to spend limited funds from the winnings. He claims she is giving away too much of the money to her relatives. Mrs Mohidin has launched proceedings in the High Court complaining that her husband is too generous to his relations. She is suing under the Married Women's Property Act, claiming the money is owned jointly.

Although most people might assume that Mrs Mohidin would be automatically entitled to half of her husband's pounds 18m winnings, Paul Focke QC, an expert in family law, says this is not so. Mr Focke said that unless the couple were getting separated or divorced it could be difficult to make her case.

The unedifying spectacle of winners suing each other will provide further ammunition for critics of the bumper prizes.

Yesterday another couple who split up after a pounds 50,000 lottery scratchcard win settled their legal battle out of court. Carole Cartman refused to share the prize with her boyfriend, Stefan Broniewski, saying she had bought the card with her own money. He counter-claimed that he had given her the money to buy it. Ms Cartman, 34, of Nottingham, has now agreed to pay Mr Broniewski pounds 13,000.