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
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

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established managed services IT...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Recruitment Genius: Plant Fitter - Construction Industry

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This well established construction equipment d...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003