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India-born Millionaire Fights His Own Brexit Divorce Battle in London

The couple is locked in a dispute over whether they use the English courts for their divorce.


Updated:March 26, 2018, 8:06 PM IST
India-born Millionaire Fights His Own Brexit Divorce Battle in London
Image used for representational purpose. (Photo: Reuters)
London: An India-born millionaire is fighting a divorce battle akin to Britain's exit from the European Union after disputing his estranged wife's right to bring the case before a UK court.

John Pyres lived in the UK before moving to Europe to work for the European Commission in Brussels years ago, where he met his wife, Una Kelly.

He argued in the Court of Appeal in London Monday that Kelly's Irish roots made her more European than British. The couple, who got married in Italy in 2005, had only lived together in England for a year between 2001 and 2002.

Kelly, who grew up in Ireland and now works for the EU in Serbia, last year chose to bring divorce proceedings in London, despite not being a UK resident.

Pyres believes the case should be heard in Bosnia, where the couple most recently lived together.

The 73-year-old's barrister, Timothy Scott, told the court that Kelly never considered London her "permanent home", and only came to the UK in the Nineties to study for a Master's degree in Manchester.

The couple, who separated in 2015, are fighting over assets including a 2.5-million-pound home in Fulham, west London, property in Brussels and a Tuscan farmhouse in Italy, Evening Standard newspaper reported.

Scott pointed out that the judge who allowed the divorce proceedings to commence, Justice Cobb, had noted "the absence in her (Kelly's) evidence of either emotional warmth or attachment to England as a country".

He said although Kelly was born in Stoke-on-Trent in England, the family moved to Ireland before she was a year old. Despite having Irish-British nationality since 1995, she had "repeatedly presented herself to the world as an Irish national".

The court was also told that Pyres believes Italy to be his "spiritual home" and had left the UK as he did not enjoy his time in the country because of racial discrimination.

Barrister Charles Hale, arguing for 44-year-old Kelly, showed the court a paper for her Master's degree as proof of her connect with England.

"She demonstrated her passion for England by writing a thesis on English country houses, rather than Irish art or Irish cultural heritage for instance," he said.

Hale said she considered the house in west London as her home, adding that she had been paying UK taxes, has a doctor in Fulham, and had moved back temporarily to London around the time she gave birth to her first child. He also claimed that she intends to retire in England when she turns 65.

Three judges, hearing the case in the Court of Appeal, have reserved their judgment on the matter until a later date.
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