Bra queen Michelle Mone begs for privacy following divorce

LINGERIE entrepreneur Michelle Mone has revelled in her role as the UK’s bra queen, a media personality who modelled her own clothes and seem to thrive in the spotlight, from reality TV shows to public rows with Rod Stewart.

But Ms Mone, the school- leaver who became one of Scotland’s leading businesswomen, pleaded for privacy yesterday after her lawyer confirmed her split from her husband of 19 years and long-time business partner, Michael.

The creator of the Ultimo bra, mother-of-three Ms Mone made her life and often her marriage part of her public persona. She told how her husband was the “traditional and private” person in their marriage who kept their family going to Mass while she was an impatient risk-taker.

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The lingerie business the couple founded together, MJM International, grew to be worth a reported £45 million, with its designs in department stores world-wide. But law firm Harper Macleod confirmed they are to separate.

The statement released through the lawyers said: “It is with regret that we intimate that Mr Michael J Mone & Mrs Michelle G Mone OBE have decided to separate.

“There are no other parties involved and the split is amicable. Michael and Michelle’s focus will be the welfare of their children, which is their main priority.”

The statement said the pair would continue to work to- gether at MJM International. “This is a private matter and they would appreciate their privacy and that of their family being respected at this difficult time,” it added.

Model Helena Christensen, ex-Spice Girl Mel B and model and actress Kelly Brook have all appeared in the company’s advertising campaigns since its founding in 1996. But Ms Mone became a celebrity in her own right.

After she hired Rod Stewart’s wife Penny Lancaster, then dropped her for his ex-wife Rachel, the singer called her “a manipulative cow”, in a tabloid sensation that TV host Piers Morgan told her was a public relations masterstroke.

Ms Mone, 40 this year, has recently appeared in a celebrity version of The Apprentice and taken part in ITV Arctic reality show 71 Degrees North. Tabloid photographers snapped her strolling arm-in-arm with fellow contestant Shane Ritchie. She has also been made an OBE – posing at Buckingham Palace in an Ultimo corset.

With a compelling personal story, she has told how she left school at 15 to care for a father stricken with paralysis, then rapidly rose to become the head of brewer Labatt’s Scottish sales and marketing division.

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Her Ultimo brand took off after Julia Roberts wore one for her role in Erin Brockovich. Last year, Ms Mone shed several stones in weight to model some of her own clothing lines for the first time, which she said had “appalled” her family. She has also dropped heavy hints about stresses in her marriage, saying it had been “touch-and-go” at times. “We had our moments and I think building a business destroyed a lot as well. I think we’ve worked through it,” she said earlier this year.

But her husband and teenage children were bitterly opposed to her modelling appearances after her crash diet, she said – even Michael had fought an obsessive eating habit. “I would hide cakes, biscuits, crisps and cans of Irn-Bru in the linen cupboard or under the bed. I had a real problem with it. My husband used to find my stash and shout at me.”