Journalists challenge woman's demands for anonymity during divorce payout appeal

The Royal Courts of Justice. Picture: Reuters/Peter Nicholls

A woman embroiled in a court battle over a divorce settlement  is trying to stop journalists from revealing her identity.

Judges have heard that the woman and her ex-husband reached a cash agreement several years ago after separating.

The woman says she has since discovered that he had more money than she realised and she has made allegations of “misrepresentation or fraud”.

She wants a judge to rule that she should get a bigger payout.

Three Court of Appeal judges are due to analyse her claims – and decide whether the case should proceed – at a hearing in London in the near future.

The woman, who is in her 50s, says she should not be identified in media reports. Her husband, who is in his 40s, says he is “neutral”.

A Court of Appeal judge has ruled that no-one involved should be named in reports of the case until the three judges analyse issues – despite opposition from journalists.

Lady Justice Macur considered the anonymity issue at a Court of Appeal hearing in London on 3 August and heard arguments from reporters representing the Press Association, The Times and the Strand News Service.

The judge said reporters had made “pertinent and cogent” arguments in favour of open justice and against any order barring the media from naming the woman and her ex-husband.

But she said she had decided to make an anonymity order which would “hold the ring” until a full panel of appeal judges looked at the case.

She said she was concerned that the woman had not given media organisations prior notice of her application for anonymity.

The judge said the woman’s lawyers should provide media organisations with details prior to the next hearing so that editors could make informed decisions about whether to oppose the application.

Barrister Emily Wilsdon, who is representing the woman, said the case concerned “quintessentially private business”.

Court of Appeal judges routinely sit in public and normally allow journalists to identify adult litigants – even when dealing with appeals from family courts where hearings have been staged behind closed doors.

But Miss Wilsdon told Lady Justice Macur that there was “no principled reason” why “anonymity should not apply” in the Court of Appeal.

Last year, three Court of Appeal judges granted anonymity to an estranged Russian couple embroiled in a dispute over money.

Lady Justice Arden, Lord Justice Ryder and Lord Justice Briggs analysed a legal issue in the case at a hearing in London.

They published a ruling on the case in July 2015 which referred to the man and his ex-wife only as “R and R”.

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