'Devious' barrister is ordered to pay his ex-fiancée £400,000

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A legal battle between two barristers involving a £200,000 flat, an Essex mill and an alsatian called Bootsy came to a suitably colourful end yesterday when a judge imposed a £400,000 settlement and launched a blistering attack on one of the claimants.

A legal battle between two barristers involving a £200,000 flat, an Essex mill and an alsatian called Bootsy came to a suitably colourful end yesterday when a judge imposed a £400,000 settlement and launched a blistering attack on one of the claimants.

Kerry Cox, 39, emerged victorious from the High Court in London after winning her demand for a share of her former fiancé's £1m property portfolio following the end of their "tempestuous" relationship.

The lawyer had claimed she was forced to break off her engagement to Lawrence Jones, also a highly paid barrister, in May 2001 because of his drunken violence and sexual jealousy towards her.

But Mr Justice Mann went further in his own assessment of Mr Jones, 54, by accusing him of using dirty tricks to besmirch his former partner, "deviousness" in his tax affairs and probable bribery of a Caribbean civil servant.

The judge said Mr Jones, who was chief executive of a defunct bank in Grenada, had made "unpleasant" claims about Ms Cox's sex life, been violent towards her and his behaviour had led the judge to treat his evidence in court with "the utmost caution".

During his testimony, Mr Jones had accused his former fiancée of flirting with a lawyer and of making "outrageous advances" to the Australian cricket team during a reception held by the governor of Grenada.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Jones made no attempt to disguise his bitterness towards Ms Cox. "This is a sad day for the decent and generous and a good day for the duplicitous, deceptive and dishonest," he said.

Ms Cox said the case had been "exceptionally unpleasant" but she bore no malice towards Mr Jones.

The relationship between the couple had begun in 1997 when they met at a restaurant in central London close to Mr Jones's chambers. The court was told that the pair were instantly attracted to each other. Their lavish lifestyle included a holiday that year to the Solomon Islands, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Relations between the pair became fraught after they moved in together, sharing Mr Jones's flat in Lincoln's Inn, London, and a converted water mill worth £800,000 in Great Maplestead, Essex. Eventually, Mr Jones asked Ms Cox to leave the flat because of the "uncontrollable and unacceptable" behaviour of Bootsy, her dog.

Although her name did not appear on the deeds to the mill and a second property, a £200,000 flat in Islington, north London, Ms Cox claimed her fiancé had promised her a half share of the properties.

The judge ruled that Ms Cox was entitled to the London flat and a quarter share of the mill, a total of £400,000. He rejected her claim for the return of a car and furniture.

In an e-mail disclosed during the proceedings, Mr Jones, who was chief of the First International Bank in Grenada, had described a public official on the island as "useful" but "expensive". This "frankly smacked of bribery", the judge said.

The court was told that the barrister had a "liking" for off-shore bank accounts and had not submitted tax returns for a 10-year period, a failure which he had explained by saying he had not got around to them.

Mr Justice Mann said: "Whatever view the Inland Revenue might have taken of that, I am afraid I find that utterly unconvincing. I think that his evidence on this shows that he is capable of some deviousness and will try to get away with it if he thinks he can."