Oil millionaire's ex-wife seeks higher divorce settlement

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The Independent Online

An oil technology millionaire's former wife today asked judges to double her divorce settlement, saying £5 million was "far too low".

Victoria Jones, 44, claims she got just 20% of the £25 million marriage assets from her former husband Gareth.

Mr Jones, 58, who has now retired to his 16th-century castle in Scotland, says the settlement is fair following a "troubled" 10-year marriage.

Martin Pointer QC, representing Mrs Jones, told three judges at the Court of Appeal that the husband had sold his business, Dominion Technology Gases, for £32 million but had been "less than frank" about the sale with his former wife and the court.

The barrister said Mr Jones did not disclose details of the May 2007 sale until June, a few months after the divorce, and continued to "suppress the truth about the sale process".

He did give full details after a judge made an order for disclosure but then argued that the value of the company when they split up in 2006 was significantly less and that it was driven up after the marriage had broken down, said Mr Pointer.

He said High Court judge Mr Justice Charles had been wrong to apportion 60% of the sale proceeds to Mr Jones's pre-marriage endeavour.

"If a judge is going to attribute a portion of the assets to one party on the grounds that it is the product of pre-marriage endeavour, this must be based on evidence. It is unsatisfactory and wrong for this to be based upon a judge's whim when it has not even been debated in argument."

Mrs Jones lives in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, in a house used during the marriage which is valued at £2.1 million.

Mr Jones, who made his fortune in the Scottish offshore oil and gas industry where he started as a teenage apprentice, lives in the castle valued at £1.2 million.

The High Court judge had assessed the assets from the value of the homes, cars and money held in bank accounts less loans and costs.

Mr Pointer told the judges, headed by the President of the Family Division, Sir Nicholas Wall: "In the context of a 10-year marriage where the greater part of the parties' wealth was accumulated after their wedding, an award of 20% of the assets was far too low."

The case has already run up around £1.5 million in legal fees.