Ex-wife sued for 'ferocious spite campaign'

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The Independent Online
A MAN yesterday brought a High Court action against his ex-wife alleging a 'ferocious campaign of spiteful vengeance' reminiscent of the film Fatal Attraction.

David Wraith, 48, a former director of car firm Godfrey Davis and a one-time director and chairman of Scunthorpe United Football Club, was divorced from his wife, Shirley, in 1988 after 22 years of marriage. The couple have a son, Jonathan, 20.

After the divorce, on the grounds of Mr Wraith's adultery, there was an 'extraordinary explosion of vitriol' on the part of Mrs Wraith, his counsel, Mark Warby, told Mr Justice Drake.

She telephoned Mr Wraith's friends, girlfriend and colleagues, accusing him of having given her 'a dose' of venereal disease and alleged that he was guilty of insider dealing and stealing the proceeds of the sale of a Majorcan property and her Porsche, he said, and made repeated silent phone calls to his home in Brampton, Lincolnshire. Mr Wraith, who re-married in 1991, was in despair at the 'ferocious campaign of spiteful vengeance'. He felt the situation was becoming reminiscent of Fatal Attraction, said Mr Warby. He was seeking damages for slander and nuisance.

Mr Warby said that on finalisation of the divorce, Mrs Wraith had received pounds 900,000 as a 'clean break' settlement.

Mr Wraith told the jury he and Jonathan, then 13, moved away from his wife when the family was living at Harrietsham, near Maidstone, Kent, to 'get some normality into his life'.

In January 1988, he said, his bank manager and friend Dennis Sherringham told him that Shirley claimed he had given her a sexually transmitted disease. He was 'horrified by the accusation.'

He claimed that another business associate, John Berry, also said Shirley was alleging he gave her a 'dose' and that he had been insider dealing in company shares. The allegations were 'madness' and 'preposterous', he said.

While he was living at the Great Danes Hotel near Leeds Castle in Kent, he claimed, Shirley burst into his room, grabbed a water jug and started swinging it around, shouting: 'You bastard, you have been to Majorca with Kathy (Simpson, now his wife).'

He said that later Shirley and her sister, Margaret, jumped on him and clawed him, leaving him shaken and with his face badly scratched and blood down his shirt.

He informed the police, but later told them that he was not prepared to press the case and no action was taken.

Mr Wraith said that he moved back to live near his parents in Lincolnshire, expecting 'peace, calm and tranquillity', but after about three months, Shirley moved left Kent to live about 15 miles from him.

He said that she visited his office, phoned him, and told him: 'I have come to live near you so I can keep an eye on you, boyo, and if you step out of line I will blow your brains out.'

Mrs Wraith, 49, of Lindholme, Lincolnshire, denies slander.

The hearing is due to continue today.