Tycoon wins £1m cut to £8m divorce award

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City tycoon Maurice Robson won a £1 million cut to the £8 million he was ordered to pay his ex-wife today in a divorce settlement described by a judge as "half of the carcass of the golden goose".

The 66-year-old had complained at the Court of Appeal that the amount he was ordered to give his wife of 24 years, Chloe, 54, would mean he would have to put his Oxfordshire estate up for sale.

Lord Justice Ward, giving the ruling of the court today, said: "It is without doubt a magnificent property and one has to have some sympathy with the husband over his reluctance to contemplate its sale."

But he had been told that the Kiddington estate - a grade II listed hall, 39 houses and cottages including most of the village of Kiddington and farms and shooting land of 2,050 acres - had to be sold to pay off debts.

"They both must learn to tighten their belts but that they ought to have done years ago," he said.

"They lived off the fruit of the land without properly husbanding it. The Hall represented their lifestyle. The Hall has gone.

"They have by their mutually extravagant lifestyle killed the goose that was capable of laying the golden eggs had they fed her properly.

"It is pure coincidence - and faintly ironic - that if the proceeds of the sale of the Hall (if one does not take into account the husband's increased overdrafts) are about £14 million, then, by a quirk of arithmetic, a lump sum of £7 million represents one half of the carcass of the golden goose that exemplified their way of life."

The judge said that in this "big money case", the money was inherited by Mr Robson from his accountant father.

They married in 1985 and have a son aged 20 and daughter of 17 and lived on the Cotswold estate where Kiddington Hall became their matrimonial home.

Mr Robson also owns a 9,205 acre estate in the Highlands of Scotland bought for him by his father when he was 19.

Lord Justice Ward said he once owned another Scottish estate but this was sold "to discharge debts accrued in supporting the parties' lifestyle".

Mr Robson owns development land, has income from a South African investment company worth £160,000 a year, receives £170,000 a year as a Lloyds of London name, two pension funds worth £638,000, together with valuable paintings and antiques.

Lord Justice Ward said both estates were mortgaged to banks for a total £5.5 million and the High Court family judge who awarded £8 million to the former wife estimated Mr Robson's assets at £22,295,000 and Mrs Robson's at £343,500.

She had told Mr Justice Charles that her former husband was solely responsible for the excessive spending and mismanagement.

But he found that her attack on the husband's treatment of his inheritance showed she was fully aware that he was not a "diligent and hardworking manager".

"It follows that she was also aware that they were living on a mismanaged inheritance and in my judgment must have been aware, even though she was not privy to the detail of the husband's income, that the level of expenditure to support their lifestyle, as the second generation in possession, was that the inheritance was being enjoyed to the full and put at risk, rather than enjoyed and nurtured by them," he said.

The High Court judge had found that Mr Robson's spending on his sporting and motoring interests became increasingly "excessive, reckless and perhaps obsessive".

Lord Justice Ward said Mr Justice Charles had given Mrs Robson £1 million more than she needed when he awarded her £5 million for a house to meet her equestrian needs.

He added: "As in all cases of this kind there is a bracket within which the judge has to endeavour to find that sum of money which will enable this wife to enjoy a comfortable life for the rest of her life living independently from her husband."

He said this would be a total lump sum of £7 million.