Husband tells court of businessman's 'indecent proposal'

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The Independent Online

A husband told the jury in the "Indecent Proposal" slander case yesterday that a businessman offered him a million dollars for his wife.

Alain Attar, a teacher, said he thought Brian Maccaba had "gone insane" on the day he allegedly declared his love for Nathalie Attar saying that she was "worth a million dollars to me". Mr Attar, whose wife is expecting their fourth child, was giving evidence at the High Court in London during the slander action brought by Mr Maccaba against a senior rabbi. Mr Maccaba, 46, who is married with six children, accuses Dayan Yaakov Lichtenstein of spreading slurs that he was a "sexual predator" and a "serial adulterer" who chased after young married Jewish women.

Mr Attar, 40, who now lives in Jerusalem, told the jury and Mr Justice Gray of a conversation he alleges took place with Mr Maccaba in his home in London in the late 1990s. He said: "Mr Maccaba seemed to be getting quite emotional and he started talking to me about Nathalie. He was saying things about how much he loved her and how much he wanted to be with her. He said to me that he had fallen in love with her the first time he saw her."

Mr Attar told the court: "I think it was very weird. I really thought Mr Maccaba had gone insane or something."

Mr Attar claimed the conversation relating to the million dollars took place as Mr Maccaba was leaving the house. "He said to me, 'If you only knew how much she is worth to me'. He said, 'I will throw a figure at you'. I said, 'OK Brian'. He said to me, 'She is worth a million dollars to me'. I said 'OK, goodnight' and I closed the door."

Mrs Attar, 35, alleges that Mr Maccaba tried to destabilise her relationship with her husband and that he twice sexually harassed her - once with a kiss on the lips and once by touching her breast. Mr Maccaba, of Hendon, north London, who is the chief executive and founder of the technology company Cognotec, denies those allegations. He also denies the alleged offer, which echoes the plot of the film Indecent Proposal, starring Robert Redford Redford and Demi Moore.

Dayan Lichtenstein, the senior judge in the Beth Din, or rabbinical court, of the Federation of Synagogues, denies slandering Mr Maccaba within the Orthodox community in early 2001 after hearing Mrs Attar's allegations.