Britain’s biggest divorce battle nears end after seven years

Business leaders expected to give evidence in climax of tycoon Scot Young’s bitter dispute with ex-wife, Michelle

Some of Britain’s most influential business leaders, including Sir Philip Green, Harold Tillman and Richard Caring, face being called to give evidence under oath at the climax of Britain’s most high-profile divorce.

Scot Young, a property and telecoms tycoon, claims the wealthy men made secret payments worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to provide for his ex-wife Michelle Young and her two daughters during the bitter, seven-year legal battle.

The former fashion buyer says her husband squirrelled away his vast fortune in tax havens around the globe just before the couple split in 2006 and his “friends are, in fact, a conduit for his secreted wealth”.

Mr Young, 51, who claims he lost all his money in a disastrous Moscow property venture, has failed for four years to comply with court orders forcing him to disclose documentary evidence of the payments from friends including retail magnate Sir Philip Green, property investor Sir Tom Hunter, Mr Tillman, the boss of fashion brand Jaeger, and restaurateur Mr Caring, the owner of The Ivy, Annabel’s and Soho House in London.

In the High Court this week, Mr Justice Moor finalised plans to call witnesses to help him get to the bottom of the case during a potentially explosive final, four-week hearing in October. He told Mr Young: “Let’s not beat about the bush. Ms Young’s case is that his friends are a front for [Mr Young’s] wealth… I want to hear from these people.”

Mr Green, who owns Topshop and worked for David Cameron as a government spending tsar, said he paid two cheques for £80,000 to an estate agent in 2008 to help Ms Young, 49, pay the rent on a house near Regents Park, London.

In October 2009, Ms Young and her daughters Scarlet, 20, and Sasha, 18, were evicted from the house after the mysterious support was suddenly halted. They have since moved to a two-bedroom flat and are surviving on housing benefit.

According to High Court documents, Mr Tillman paid Ms Young £30,000. Mr Young has also told the judge that the friends are funding his lavish lifestyle. Mr Caring is said to have paid £50,000 towards the tycoon’s legal fees during the divorce that has inched its way through the justice system.

Britain has been intrigued by the story of Mr Young, who rose from a Dundee council flat to own a £14m Oxfordshire mansion. He threw his money about in spectacular fashion – giving his wife a £1m necklace for her 40th birthday.

Despite repeated court appearances, Scot Young owes his wife nearly £1m in maintenance and £1.28m in unpaid tax.

Earlier this year, when Mr Justice Moor jailed Mr Young for repeatedly failing to disclose the mysterious whereabouts of his lost wealth, he was scathing about the alleged role of his illustrious business associates.

He said: “It is absurd to say that these friends are prepared to support him financially to such a huge extent but that not one of them is prepared to produce any documentary evidence that the money came from them.

“There is no evidence he has tried to obtain such information from them. He knew what was required. I conclude he has deliberately failed to comply.”

Sir Philip told The Independent: “I paid UK cheques from my bank account.” When asked why Mr Young had failed to produce documentary evidence to support this, he replied: “I don’t know. I don’t want to get involved in this. I don’t know what this has to do with me. I’m just telling you categorically that any money I may have paid came from my own personal UK bank account. End of conversation.”

A spokesman for Sir Tom Hunter said: “Our support for the family is a matter of public record. Clearly if asked by the courts Tom would of course give evidence on this matter.”

Mr Caring declined to comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas