A millionaire businessman has said he was "surprised" at the negative reaction of his ex-wife when he asked her to stay living in their marital home and work as a housekeeper to him and his new partner, a judge has heard.
The details emerged in reports from a private trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London where the man's partner was awarded a payout of more than £6 million by the judge after the couple fought over money.
The man, who has interests in a portfolio of property in London, had said he could not understand why his partner "through her lawyers" became "so aggressive" when he informed her of the new arrangements, Mr Justice Bodey said.
The court awarded the man's former wife nearly half of a "kitty" containing more than £13 million. The judge said the verdict could be reported but said the couple, from London, could not be identified.
The court was told that the couple married in the 1970s and divorced in the 1990s but treated the divorce as “just a piece of paper” and carried on living together.
Around five years ago the man, who is in his 70s, met another woman and installed her and her 12-year-old daughter into the marital home, said Mr Justice Bodey.
The man went on to ask his former wife, who is in her 50s, to stay in the home as "some sort of housekeeper”, a suggestion she found “very demeaning and upsetting”.
At that point the lady consulted with solicitors to begin litigation, but the judge said the man "could not come to terms with why (the partner), through her lawyers, had become so aggressive".
The man told her that he would "commit suicide or go on hunger strike" if she "went to court regarding financial matters".
The man's former wife was awarded £6.12m of a £13.6m fortune after the judge concluded that there was 'no distinction' between the couple’s marriage and their life together after the divorce.
The man had argued that he and his partner reached an agreement which meant that she would be entitled to no more than £3.4 million.
His partner said the agreement was signed after she was placed under duress. He denied the allegation but the judge ruled in the partner's favour.