Tory's ex-wife sues solicitors

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The Independent Online
THE EX-WIFE of the former Tory MP Sir Eldon Griffiths said yesterday that it never entered her head that their divorce would go through without a financial settlement having been made.

Sigrid Griffiths told the High Court that she did not want the divorce - and denied that when it came she went after 'every last penny' from her husband, who has since remarried.

Mrs Griffiths, 63, alleges that the negligence of solicitors Dawson and Co, of New Square, Lincoln's Inn, London, cost her the pension she would have received as an MP's widow in the event of Sir Eldon's death.

She is suing the firm, which denies negligence, for pounds 74,000 damages - which represents the cost of purchasing an annuity to replace the pension, and legal costs.

Mrs Griffiths, of Carlisle Place, Victoria, central London, told Mr Justice Ewbank that after the couple were divorced in June 1985, she received pounds 10,000 a year maintenance.

In 1990 this was halved to pounds 5,000. Since Sir Eldon, 67, retired from Parliament last year - he was MP for Bury St Edmunds for 28 years - she had received a nominal 5p a year.

Mrs Griffiths said she had lived by working as a tourist guide and interpreter. When her husband moved out in June, 1979, her main concern was to save her marriage, and she hoped his affair with the woman who later became his second wife would blow over.

Mrs Griffiths claims that Dawson and Co failed to make a crucial court application which would have protected her financial position before the decree absolute. Had it done so, provision would have been made for her on the basis of her husband's then financial position.

But by 1990, when the matter was assessed, Sir Eldon did not have the means to compensate her for loss of the pension.

Mrs Griffiths said she always assumed that the solicitor dealing with her case, David Robson, would take all necessary steps. to secure her financial position.

Simon King, for Dawson and Co, suggested that, far from being concerned about financial arrangements, Mrs Griffiths had raised with Mr Robson the question of her missed opportunity of a title because she knew her husband was about to be knighted.

She agreed that she owned her home and was joint owner of her daughter's home, also in London - both substantial properties.

Mr King asked if it had ever occurred to her to make provision for her own pension. Mrs Griffiths replied: 'I find things fairly tight. My income is not very large - last year . . . it was something like pounds 10,000.'

The hearing will resume today.