A BUSINESSWOMAN has been handed a bill for around £100,000 after a judge ruled that she had deceived her former husband into thinking he was the father of the son she gave birth to, following fertility treatment.
Judge Deborah Taylor ordered the woman to pay £40,000 damages and pick up her ex-husband’s lawyers’ bills – said to total about £60,000 – after a trial at Central London County Court.
She was told that the man, a lecturer, had earlier offered to settle the litigation if his ex-wife paid him £12,500.
The man had complained that, without his knowledge, the child was conceived using sperm provided by a former boyfriend and claimed damages.
He said she dropped the “bombshell” when the child, now nine, was five years old.
The woman said there was no merit in the damages claim.
She said she always thought her ex-husband knew he was “not necessarily” the boy’s father.
Judge Taylor analysed the case at a hearing earlier this week and ruled in favour of the man yesterday.
She concluded that the man’s claim for “deceit” was “made out” and said there had been “deliberate fraudulent misrepresentation” by the woman.
The judge was told by a lawyer involved that the case was thought to be the first of its kind.
She said nothing could be published which would reveal the identity of the boy at the centre of proceedings.
Judge Taylor said the man and woman should be referred to as X and Y. The judge was told that the man is in his 60s and the woman is in her 50s.
“I found the woman to be an untruthful witness,” said Judge Taylor in her ruling. “I found her account both highly improbable and inconsistent.”
The judge added: “She presented herself as a victim of circumstances rather than a participant.
“I found the man’s evidence more consistent. I am satisfied that the woman intended her ex-husband to believe that he was the boy’s father.”
Judge Taylor said the man should get £10,000 damages for the distress he had suffered, £4,000 for loss of earnings and more than £25,000 as compensation for the maintenance he had paid. She said the woman, who represented herself at the trial, should also pay the man’s legal costs, which sources said were around £60,000.
Judge Taylor had been told the man had now lost almost all contact with the little boy.
Afterwards, the man said that litigation had been “incredibly difficult”. “I have sometimes felt, ‘I think I am in the wrong film’,” he said.
“I can’t imagine what my then ‘son’ must have felt to have had a loving father substituted by another man. I live in the hope that when he is 18 he looks for me. He is truly missed.”