Queen's Proctor v Moynihan sons; Fugitive baron's dissolute lifestyle to be kept secret

The colourful life and nefarious times of the late Third Baron Moynihan will remain shielded from the public eye after a High Court judge yesterday invoked a 1926 Act designed to protect the populace from moral outrage. The ruling was made at the opening of a hearing to settle competing claims to the title of the peer, who died from a stroke in 1991 while running a string of lucrative brothels in the Philippines.

Two boys, aged seven and five, whose Filipino mothers claim they were Lord Moynihan's fourth and fifth wives, are laying claim to the title.

Colin Moynihan, 40, the former Conservative sports minister, also has an interest in the outcome of the hearing, because as the half brother of the late lord, he also has a claim. Mr Moynihan wants to stand as an MP again, having lost his Lewisham seat in the 1992 General Election, but cannot offer himself as a candidate for any seat because, if he does become the Fourth Baron Moynihan, he will be elevated to the House of Lords and there would have to be a by-election.

The case had promised an insight into the colourful antics of Anthony Patrick Andrew Cairnes Berkeley Moynihan, Third Baron Moynihan of Leeds, who fled to Manila in 1970 to evade a string of arrest warrants over gambling debts and assorted fraud allegations.

It was known he lived life to the full, building up a pounds 3m fortune from his involvement in the sex industry, and earning himself the nickname of the "Ermine Pimpernel".

But the Queen's Proctor has stepped into the case to challenge the legality of Lord Moynihan's divorce from his fourth wife, Editha, 35, who claims that her signatures on the court papers were forgeries.

This means that the hearing becomes, in effect, a contested divorce case, and Sir Stephen Brown, President of the Family Division, ruled that the Judicial Proceedings Act must apply, and that reporting is strictly limited to names and charges until the judge gives his ruling at the end of the hearing. Lord Meston QC, representing the Queen's Proctor, told the judge the decrees nisi and absolute, granted to Lord Moynihan by Tunbridge Wells County Court in 1990, were void.

It follows that Lord Moynihan's marriage to his fifth wife, former belly- dancer Jinna, was also void because it was bigamous, and their son, Daniel, aged five, is illegitimate and has no claim to the title.

It is also known, however, that DNA tests on Editha's son, Andrew, and samples left by the late lord, show that he could not have been the father.

If both the sons of Lord Moynihan's oriental wives are ruled out, Mr Colin Moynihan will become the Fourth Lord Moynihan of Leeds and will have to set his political sights on a career in the House of Lords.

Lord Moynihan's fortune in the Philippines (he left Britain with virtually nothing) will not be settled at this hearing, but is expected to go to one of the battling wives in Manila.

Details of the High Court battle will have to wait until Sir Stephen Brown gives his judgment at the end of the hearing which is expected to last 10 days.

Although the judge ruled the case came under the Judicial Proceedings Act, the Attorney General's office later agreed that details of the opening could be published. He had told the court how Lord Moynihan fled from Britain facing 57 criminal charges and in March 1970 made an announcement in the Times newspaper that he would never return to the UK.

He said that the first of "a number of remarkable documents" was a marriage certificate in the name of Colin Moynihan, signed in the Philippines, and a woman said to have been the peer's fifth wife, Jinna. Lord Meston said that Lord Moynihan did use the name "Colin" and also had various passports and driving licences in different names.

When the divorce papers were lodged at Tunbridge Wells County Court, the Manila address of Editha, the respondent, was given as Flamingo Health Services, "what is euphemistically called a massage establishment", said Lord Meston.

He asked for his decree absolute to be speeded up so that he could marry Jinna, who was pregnant by him, because he wanted to "make an honest woman of her".

The hearing continues today.

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Scrum Master (Agile, Java, team recruitment)

£45000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Scrum M...

Junior Asset Manager

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Junior As...

Investment Analyst

£33000 - £40000 Per Annum Discretionary profit share: The Green Recruitment Co...

Project Coordinator

£20000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Project C...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?