Wife of fallen tycoon to cross-examine Philip Green in £400m divorce battle

The Topshop boss will be questioned by Michelle Young about £80,000 cheques he said he paid to an estate agent

Some of Britain’s most influential business leaders including Sir Philip Green, Harold Tillman and Richard Caring, will be cross-examined by the woman at the centre of Britain’s most high-profile divorce when the case comes to a climax later this month.

Scot Young, a property and telecoms tycoon, failed in an attempt to shield the wealthy men, who he has claimed paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to provide for his ex-wife Michelle and her two daughters during their bitter, seven-year legal battle.

Lawyers for the 51-year-old businessman, who is officially bankrupt, tried to prevent the men being cross-examined by Mrs Young. She claims her husband squirrelled away £400m in offshore tax havens before they split in 2006, and that his friends “are, in fact, a conduit for his secreted wealth”.

Sir Philip Green, who owns Topshop, claims he paid two cheques for £80,000 to an estate agent in 2008 to help Mrs Young pay rent on a London house. Justin Warshaw, acting for Mr Young, argued his “friends and sponsors” had provided witness statements and their evidence should not be challenged.

Mr Justice Moor said that would amount to a “ridiculous situation”. He added: “I consider it almost inconceivable that she would not be able to challenge them… If these people are saying that they funded Mr Young then she is entitled to cross-examine them.”

Mr Young, 51, who claims he lost all his money in a disastrous Moscow property venture, was jailed earlier this year for failing to disclose documentary evidence of the payments from friends including 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, Mrs Young also accused HM Revenue and Customs of “corporate corruption” after the agency gave bizarre support to her ex-husband that may cost the taxpayer millions of pounds.

Scot Young, pictured with his girlfriend Noelle Reno, split from his wife, Michelle Young, in 2006 (PA) Scot Young, pictured with his girlfriend Noelle Reno, split from his wife, Michelle Young, in 2006 (PA)  

Mrs Young levelled the allegation after HMRC lawyers said they would “vigorously oppose” moves to annul the bankruptcy of Mr Young in 2010. HMRC is listed as one of his main creditors with around £3m in unpaid tax.

However lawyers for Mrs Young, 48, claim the insolvency is bogus and has been used to frustrate the divorce proceedings. She applied to annul the bankruptcy but Christopher Buckley, for HMRC, said: “We will be opposing this very vigorously.” Mr Justice Moor replied: “Don’t they want to get their money? I would have thought HMRC, as a creditor, would be absolutely delighted?”

Mrs Young then stood up and shouted “Corporate corruption” before being told to be quiet by her lawyer. An HMRC spokesman said: “HMRC maintains the highest standards of honesty and integrity at all times in its dealings with all its customers. We strongly reject any comments suggesting otherwise.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk