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
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

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
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect