A spurned mistress was given permission yesterday to tell the story of her relationship with a millionaire racehorse owner in a ground-breaking judgment that signalled an end to the culture of secrecy that surrounds the family courts.
Ivan Allan, who is said to have a string of mistresses around the world, is left facing an estimated £500,000 bill for legal costs.
Glory Anne Clibbery, a 48-year-old actress, initially brought a legal action claiming a share of a London flat owned by Mr Allan, her former lover of 15 years. But when she lost the case she used court documents to give her side of the story to the Daily Mail.
In the paper, she described how Singapore-born Mr Allan had thought of her as a "sexual servant" who paid for her to live in a Mayfair residence so he could have sex with her.
Under a headline: "I thought it was love but I was no more than a sexual servant", Miss Clibbery disclosed a sworn statement to the court in which Mr Allan said: "We share nothing. As unfeeling as it sounds, I paid her to be at my disposal, in particular for sexual activity. It was not correct that I have ever loved her. She knows this."
After the story was published Mr Allan, who lives in Hong Kong and owns a £1.5m house in Newmarket, Suffolk, succeeded in persuading a judge to grant a gagging order against Ms Clibbery, forbidding her from making any further use of his statement.
Miss Clibbery claimed that Mr Allan, the former owner of the St Leger winner Commanche Run, had tried to evict her from the flat because he had found another woman to take her place. She said her reason for going to the papers was to alert other mistresses to the fact that there was no legal concept of common law marriage and that they did not have the same family law rights as married women.
In June Miss Clibbery won an important victory in the High Court when Mr Justice Munby ruled that not all matters heard in a family case were confidential and private. He said: "This is not just because it goes to the daily practice of the family division but, much more fundamentally, because it goes to the root of the proper administration of justice and of the rights of litigants to talk in public about what has happened to them in court." The Court of Appeal backed this view yesterday and rejected Mr Allan's appeal.
Giving judgment in Miss Clibbery's favour, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the family division of the High Court, said: "It is not good enough for it to be said that we have always done it this way so it has to be right. That principle of open justice applies to all courts and in principle the family courts are not excluded from it, although for good reasons ... many family cases ... require confidentiality."
The hearing of a case in private, she said, did not "of itself prohibit the publication of information about the proceedings or given in the proceedings".
But Dame Elizabeth made very clear that information about cases involving children was "indisputably covered by privacy and secrecy".
Mr Allan, who is abroad, said in a written statement after the judgment: "I feel that the hearings ... could have been avoided if Miss Clibbery had respected my right to privacy and accepted that our relationship was over. I now wish to get on with my life and suggest that Miss Clibbery does the same."
He added: "Although we had a long friendship this was based on seeing each other for less than 20 days a year in England. In our long association I had never once used words of endearment and Miss Clibbery knew that there was no depth to our relationship."
A "very pleased" Miss Clibbery said: "I want the court system to be much more open and I think that's what the court wants as well."
Asked about the depth of the pair's relationship, she said: "Ivan Allan knows the truth and sooner or later all the truth will come out because that's what happens with the truth. It outs."