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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Housekeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is the holding company of an expa...

Recruitment Genius: Network Engineer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Setup, configure, troubleshoot,...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future