An academic in his mid-sixties won the right yesterday to a retrial in his battle to be declared the father of four-year-old twins.
He is seeking an order that the two girls should undergo DNA tests despite the refusal of their mother, who has been married since 1975 to another man. Judge Elystan Morgan refused the request at Caernarfon County Court, ruling that if the academic proved to be the real father, it would break up a "happy marriage".
Lord Justice Thorpe, one of three judges who heard the appeal last month, said in a reserved judgment yesterday that there should be a balance between establishing scientific fact against the risk of "perpetuating a state of uncertainty that breeds gossip". He allowed the academic's appeal and sent the case back to a High Court judge for retrial.
The academic, who has five children by other relationships, claimed he had a close sexual relationship with the mother between 1995 and 1999 when it broke down "on a sour note". The mother, who is in her forties and from North Wales, admits she had sex with him, but only while she was using contraceptives. She claims the real father is her husband.
The trial judge had also accepted that at first the mother, known as Mrs R, had told the academic, described in court papers as Mr B, that he was the father of the twins. She had sent Christmas cards from the twins to him in 1997 and 1998 and had allowed visits with the babies.
The judge also found that the mother's husband, Mr R, had accepted that the twins were his and had become their primary carer after the mother went back to work.
After the quarrel in 1999, Mr B applied for contact and parental responsibility, which Mrs R opposed. A court order was made for DNA testing, but Mrs R refused to comply.
Lord Justice Thorpe said: "One of the extraordinary features of the case is that throughout this year of litigation Mrs R had concealed its existence from her husband. Her deceit was uncovered when [he] accidentally came across court papers in her bag in early 2000."