Sears Tooth
Natasha Salbas - SEARS TOOTH

India accounts for 56.3% of all of the UK’s international surrogacy arrangements (as cited within Cafcass’s study on parental order applications made in 2013/2014). Surrogacy is a $2.3b industry according to the BBC. Sama, an advocacy support group promoting women’s health and rights in New Delhi, measures profits of $42m. Of this, BBC reports indicate that the clinics receive about 62%, with the surrogates themselves receiving only 38%.

In India a surrogate mother must have had a child of her own and can take part in this type of arrangement once only. The surrogate remains in a hostel throughout the pregnancy, so as to receive medical treatment and to avoid being outcast by her home community. But soon this 'surrogate capital' of the world will prohibit foreign couples from entering into surrogacy arrangements. Thailand also banned surrogacy in 2014 following an Australian couple’s choice to disown one of their twins born with Down’s Syndrome, leaving him behind with his Thai surrogate mother.

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Natasha Salbas - SEARS TOOTH

The law in England and Wales remains without a robust framework of legislation to enforce surrogacy arrangements. While the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 (SAA 1985), and other legislation, governs surrogacy arrangements, it remains that a surrogacy agreement is not enforceable by or against any of the persons making it. The consequence is that childless couples may decide to venture outside of the UK in order to enter into a surrogacy arrangement. Their escape from the inauspicious English system is short lived however because steps then need to be taken on returning with the child to secure their legal parental status in England and Wales, usually by an application for a parental order. Those returning with a child after an overseas surrogacy arrangement may not know of, let alone understand, the procedure for ensuring that their parental status is recognised in the UK.

Case law demonstrates that judges are prepared to manoeuvre the law wherever possible to prevent parentless children from evolving, but cases may pass through the net with consequences that are less than preferable. A review and amendment of the relevant legislation is necessary and overdue.

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Natasha Salbas - SEARS TOOTH

Given the mother’s “gross defiance” of English court orders, Mr Justice Mostyn’s landmark ruling has allowed, for the first time in such proceedings, the names and photog raphs of the accused abductors to be published in a bid to encourage compliance with the English court orders where there was no search order and the whereabouts of the children were known.

The usual reasons for the English Court’s justification on relaxing reporting restrictions, otherwise termed “hot pursuit” cases, are where it is necessary for identifying the whereabouts of missing children.

However, Mr Justice Mostyn made this landmark decision based on specific facts in this case and he allowed for reporting restrictions to be lifted in a bid to encourage the children’s return to England.

The mother, Ganna Tigipko, “in concert with MGF and her husband Slava, has made the fateful decision to defy the authority of this court and to retain the girls in the Ukraine indefinitely”. The MGF is Sergiy Tigipko, former Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine.

Mr Justice Mostyn within his judgment states in respect of the mother and maternal grandfather, that she has “Shown herself to have no respect whatever for the rule of law and MGF has been shown to have easily made untrue and misleading applications to the Ukrainian court”.

The children and the father may not be named.

The father last physically saw his children in July 2018.

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By Sanchia Berg - BBC News

One of Ukraine's richest men is being investigated by Scotland Yard over the abduction of his two British grandchildren from the UK to Ukraine. Banker and industrialist Sergiy Tigipko helped his daughter Ganna defy High Court orders to bring her children back to the UK from Kiev, a judge has ruled.

The court had ordered Ms Tigipko back to London, where the children's British father lives, so they could see him.

Sergiy and Ganna can be named after an exceptional decision by a judge.

The children were "suffering harm" by being separated from their father, the court heard.

The judge heard that publicity could make their mother and grandfather return them.

Ms Tigipko said everything she had done since her husband left her in 2015 had been "for the welfare of my children and nobody else".

She added the children were "happy and settled in Ukraine now" and that their father was "welcome to visit them".

It is believed to be the first time a judge has allowed abductors to be named in this way - usually it only happens when children's whereabouts are unknown.

Ms Tigipko met the children's father in 2010 and married in 2012.

They settled in north London, and had two daughters. But, in late 2015, the father announced the marriage was over.

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Initially, Ms Tigipko was happy to stay in London. She had founded a clinic in Harley Street.

With help from her mother, she bought a £9m home in Hampstead, which is one of London's most expensive districts and popular with Russian speakers.

The children's father lived nearby with his new wife.

But then Ms Tigipko met a new partner too, and married him in 2017 in Ukraine.

In November 2017, she took the girls for a visit to Kiev - and stayed there, violating an informal agreement with the father to remain living in the UK.

She sold her house in Hampstead and gave up her Harley Street business.

In April 2018, the High Court ruled she must return to London to live - but she ignored repeated court orders.

Mr Justice Mostyn found that her father, Sergiy, had helped her.

He was fully satisfied "of his deep complicity", he said in his judgment.

As no progress was being made, the girls' father took the exceptional step of asking for the grandfather and mother to be named, hoping that would encourage them to return the children.

Mr Tigipko is one of the richest and most powerful men in Ukraine.

The billionaire was an ally of Ukraine's former president, Viktor Yanukovych - serving as a vice prime minister in his administration - and twice stood as a presidential candidate himself.

In recent years, he has concentrated on his business interests, and told the court he had no further interest in politics.

The court heard that before the children were taken to Kiev, they had had a close relationship with their father.

by David Brown - The Times

A Ukrainian tycoon and his daughter who abducted two British girls have been named by a family court in a landmark ruling on the “heinous practice” of international child abduction.

Scotland Yard is investigating the pair after they refused to return Ms Tigipko’s young daughters to their home in Hampstead, north London.

The Times and other media organisations have won the right to partially lift the secrecy surrounding the case, which could have significant implications in the rising number of disputes involving parents who want their children to live in different countries.

Ms Tigipko, 34, took her daughters on holiday to Ukraine in November 2017 after her divorce from their British father. She has since defied repeated court rulings that she must return them. Her former husband, who cannot be identified, was given permission by a senior judge to identify the heiress and her father in an attempt to “shame” them into obeying the court orders.

Courts have previously authorised publicity in custody cases only if the children’s whereabouts are unknown. This ruling means judges can order publicity to help persuade parents to return their children.

Mr Justice Mostyn said that by allowing publicity there would be a “reasonable prospect” that Ms Tigipko and her father would “see sense and agree” to return her daughters. He had previously criticised Ms Tigipko’s “highly manipulative conduct” in making a “furtive flit” to Ukraine. The judge said Mr Tigipko had “acted in concert with the mother in the abduction”.

He said that reporting of the case was needed as public awareness of the “heinous practice” of child abduction was “very limited”.

Adam Wolanski, QC, representing the children’s father, told the family division of the High Court that it was hoped that the publicity would have a “chastening effect” on the mother.

The couple married in Ukraine in 2012 and lived together in Hampstead until their divorce in 2015.

The father, who founded a £1 billion investment business, has three children from a previous marriage and now lives with his third wife and her son. The court was told that the abduction of his daughters has caused them “emotional harm”.

Lord Pannick, QC, representing Ms Tigipko, said that identifying the mother would “intensify tensions”, make it less likely to reach a conclusion in the custody case and cause “real damage to the children”. Sam King, QC, representing the children’s guardian appointed by the court, argued that although the girls were being well cared for in Ukraine, they “will pay a heavy price” if their mother continues to defy court orders to return them to Britain.

Gervase de Wilde, on behalf of The Times, BBC and Daily Mail, said they did not wish to name or publish photographs of the girls and added that reporting of child abduction cases was of “high public interest” and this case was a “compelling example”.

by David Brown - The Times

There is anguish in the father’s eyes as he described how the most recent Skype conversation he had with the daughters he has not seen since they were abducted in July last year ended after less than 30 seconds. “I could not even see my older daughter and my younger daughter said, ‘Hello daddy’ and then I heard Anna’s voice saying, ‘Tell him you’re busy’ and she put the phone down,” he recalled.

“The previous day my older daughter did not even come to the phone, and my younger daughter said ‘Hello and goodbye’ and put the phone down.”

Following a landmark court ruling Anna can be named today as the heiress Anna Tigipko, 34, who a senior judge ruled is being aided in her daughters’ abduction by her father, Sergiy Tigipko, a former deputy prime minister of Ukraine.

A judge in the family division of the High Court said that the pair could be publicly identified in an attempt to persuade them to return the children to their London home.

The girls’ father, a wealthy businessman who cannot be named to protect his daughters’ identities, told how Ms Tigipko sent a text message saying their daughters would not be on a flight home after a holiday in November 2017.

“The nanny was in Kiev to pick up the children when I got the message saying they were not coming back,” he said.

The father has children from both a previous marriage and from a marriage following his divorce from Ms Tigipko.

While the dispute over his former wife’s failure to return the girls has dragged through the courts a judge ruled that he should have contact with them over Skype four times a week.

“In the beginning Anna was trying to keep it up and then she could not control her emotions and she made it difficult,” the father said in the offices of his solicitors in Mayfair, central London, as he recalled the past 14 months. A children’s guardian appointed by the court who visited his daughters at their home on the outskirts of Kiev reported that the girls believe he is a “bad father”. He is worried about the long-term impact.

“It is very painful when your children will not talk to you because they think you are a bad person,” he said. “Their mother is taking advantage of them. She is instilling hate in one of the few people who will always love them unconditionally, who is always going to hug them.”

The father arrived in London from Russia in 1995 with only £20. He set up a company that now employs 120 people and manages assets of £1.13 billion. He is now a British citizen. His former wife had been at boarding school in Oxford and took a degree at the European Business School in London before returning to Kiev to work for her father’s pharmaceutical business. She is also a British citizen. They met in Vienna in 2010, married in Ukraine in 2012 and lived together in Hampstead, north London, until their marriage ended in 2015. “Anna liked London, she was very settled here,” the father said.

After their divorce his former wife’s mother gave her £9 million to buy a house seven minutes’ walk from the family home. “Anna had friends here, she had a career here,” the father said. “There was nothing to suggest she wanted to take the children away.

“I never wanted full custody of the children. I always thought the mother should have them, and I still hold this general position.”

Their relationship changed when Ms Tigipko met her future husband, Slava Baikovski, who was described in court as working in cybersecurity and gaming, the father said.

He believes that his former wife’s father is behind her decision to abduct their daughters to Ukraine, where he is one of the country’s richest and most powerful men. Mr Tigipko, 59, was an economics minister before being appointed chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine. He stood unsuccessfully for the presidency then was appointed deputy prime minister with responsibility for social policy. “He was in charge of protecting children, now he is accused of child abduction,” the father said ruefully.

On the evening of one of the appeal court rulings he had agreed to meet Mr Tigipko in London. “I said I would be happy to let them go if I have a guarantee that Anna will let me have a normal relationship with the children. I asked, ‘Can you give me that guarantee?’ and he just laughed in my face.”

He does not believe that his former wife would have kept their daughters in Kiev unless she were being instructed by her father.

The father says the power of his former father-in-law means that he is afraid to try to visit his daughters in Ukraine. “It is a country where anything can happen to you and I am sure bad things will happen to me,” he said.

by David Brown - The Times

The importance of allowing the media to report hearings in the family court was highlighted by the judge yesterday as he agreed that the Ukrainian tycoon and his daughter could be identified in a custody case. Sergiy Tigipko, a former Ukrainian deputy prime minister, and his daughter, Anna, failed in an attempt to keep their names secret after The Times and other media groups argued that reporting of abduction cases was of “high public interest”.

Ms Tigipko’s former husband believes that publicly identifying the pair is his last chance at persuading them to allow his two daughters to return to their London home after they were taken to Ukraine on holiday.

Mr Justice Mostyn said in his judgment in the High Court family division: “There is a strong public interest in far more press reporting of the scourge of international child abduction. Child abduction is a heinous practice, and there are in force international agreements to seek to prevent it. Yet public awareness is curiously very limited. It is strongly in the public interest that much greater awareness is generated about this dreadful phenomenon.”

The court-appointed guardian for the two girls supported the request for their mother, her new husband and her father to be identified. Ms Tigipko’s new husband is Slava Baikovski, who was described in court as working in cybersecurity and gaming.

The judge said: “It is my judgment that publicity is positively in the interests of these children on the specific facts of this case.” During a previous hearing he referred to a campaign by The Times which led to greater openness in family court proceedings.

The hearings were open to journalists but the identity of Ms Tigipko, her father and her new husband could not be revealed until the standard secrecy surrounding family court cases was lifted after the Court of Appeal rejected the final bid to restrict reporting.

by Phoebe Southworth, Robert Mendick - The Telegraph

A millionaire businessman has revealed his fight to bring his daughters back to the UK after his "manipulative and arrogant" ex-wife took them on holiday and never came back. Ganna Tigipko, 34, flew her children to Ukraine in July last year has refused to bring them home. A dual Ukrainian-British citizen, Ms Tigipko is the daughter of politician Sergiy Tigipko, 59, who served as Ukraine's vice prime minister from 2010 to 2012.

Her flouting of a High Court order which prevented her from leaving the country with the girls was described as a "furtive flit" and a "gross act of defiance" by a judge.

Ms Tigipko's former husband is a Russian businessman living in London who cannot be named to protect his daughters' identities.

He has been battling to have his ex-wife's name made public in the hope that the publicity will help get his daughters home

Ms Tigipko had resisted the lifting of reporting restrictions, arguing that the publicity would harm the children. But a High Court judge took the unusual step of ruling that she, her father and her new husband could be named.

Now her ex-husband, to whom she was married for three years, has spoken for the first time about the pain of being without his girls. He told The Telegraph: "Before this I had a really good relationship with my daughters but now they are telling a child psychologist 'daddy is a bad person'.

"Ganna has broken the first rule of parenting by telling them these things. But I hope I can reverse this. Love is a very powerful thing." He claims his former father-in-law's fingerprints were "all over" the decision to remove his daughters from the UK.

"The audacity of what they have done is a trademark of his style of business," he said.

"I'm up against a very serious opponent here. The guy is wealthy, very resourceful, and he knows how to play the system.

"Even if by some miracle that I get a positive result going up against this guy, then I can't physically bring my daughters home.

"When he was vice prime minister of Ukraine he was minister for social policy, so his job was to protect children. Now he has removed my children from me."

He said there are no circumstances under which he could visit his daughters in Ukraine because he might be faced with false accusations that could threaten his liberty.

Ms Tigipko told her ex-husband in June 2017 that she wanted to move to Ukraine with their daughters, both aged under 10, and start a family with her fiance.

The next day he began legal steps to make sure his children would not disappear abroad, issuing an application for a child arrangements order and a prohibited steps order.

It was agreed at the High Court in July 2017 that the parents would give each other seven days' notice if they wanted to take the children on holiday, would provide flight, accommodation and contact details, and would return the girls to the UK afterwards.

But Ms Tigipko flew her daughters to Kiev on 25 November 2017 without telling their father and did not board the return flight she had booked for three days later.

She then texted her nanny and asked for her's and her daughters' clothes to be boxed up and shipped over to Ukraine.

A High Court judgement ordered her to return the children to the UK by no later than 9 April 2018.

Ms Tigipko returned in April and her application to relocate to Ukraine was dismissed by Mr Justice Nicholas Mostyn, who ruled that the youngsters should stay in London and see their father frequently.

But she then flew her children to Kiev again in July last year for what her ex-husband believed was a five-week summer holiday - and never returned.

In his judgements, Mr Justice Mostyn described Ms Tigipko as "highly manipulative" and said she had shown "an arrogant and contemptuous disregard for the court's authority" and "no respect for the rule of law".

Discussing the successful overturning of his ex-wife's relocation application, the father said: "Sergiy's a very charismatic and resourceful man, and if the judge wasn't as clever as he is then he would have got away with it.

"Ganna made the argument that the children had settled in Ukraine so they should be allowed to stay. But Judge Mostyn saw through it and realised that they were trying to force the court's hand.

"Sergiy came to my office on the evening of a Court of Appeal hearing and I thought he had come to negotiate, but instead he came to try to convince me. He's a very experienced politician and he's very persuasive."

Describing the moment he realised his daughters were not coming back, he said: "Ganna and Sergiy realised the courts were not on their side so they took the law into their own hands.

"I'm calm now but I wasn't at the time. I just felt powerless. Very anxious and angry. It was totally unprecedented."

He added: "The only tool in my arsenal is to shame her into complying with the judge's order. I can only hope that enough people will tell them that what they are doing is wrong and they will succumb.

"Sergiy is a wealthy man and has all sorts of international projects exporting gas from Ukraine. Hopefully there will be pressure from his partners in Europe and Ukraine to do what any decent human being would do.

"But he is a very determined man and hard to read. He has the attitude that he will walk over everybody else to get what he wants.

"Now I know that, I realise that I have to rely on the legal system to get my daughters home.

"Everyone is hurting, including the children, so we need to find a way out of this. England's justice system is my only hope."

Ms Tigipko met her ex-husband in Vienna in 2010. They married in Ukraine in 2012 and had been living together in Hampstead, north west London.

When their marriage ended in 2015, he stayed at the former matrimonial home and Ms Tigipko and their daughters moved into a £9 million property a few minutes away.

She describes herself as an "entrepreneur" on Companies House and is listed as being the director of two London-based medical companies.

It is possible she will face criminal proceedings for taking her children abroad, but none have yet been brought.

The father has tried to use the 1996 Hague Convention to enforce UK court orders in Ukraine and get his daughters home, but with no success so far.

He said in his application to relax reporting restrictions last year that his former father-in-law, given his political connections and influence as a businessman in Ukraine, is "highly sensitive to any suggestion that there might be publicity surrounding his breach of an English High Court order."

Mr Justice Mostyn's judgement approving the lifting of reporting restrictions said: "There is no doubt in my mind that the mother, in concert with her father and her new husband Vaichelsav Baikovskyi, has made the fateful decision to defy the authority of this court and to retain the girls in Ukraine indefinitely.

"There is a reasonable prospect, if publicity is allowed, that its effect will be to make the mother and her father see sense and to the return of the girls to the land of their habitual residence to live in London under the care of both of their parents."

It adds: "That Ms Tigipko has brought a phalanx of some of the country's most distinguished lawyers to defend her position is indicative of the concern that she is truly feeling at the prospect of publicity."

Ms Tigipko said in a statement: "Everything I have done since my first husband left me in 2015 has been for the welfare of my children and nobody else.

"I have never sought to turn them against their father and have always said that he is welcome to visit them in Ukraine, which he is perfectly entitled to do on his British passport.

"It is my honestly held belief that the children are happy and settled in Ukraine now, and their needs are best catered for in Kyiv where I can care for them with my new baby."

By Jenny Awford - The Sun

A MILLIONAIRE mum who abducted her two British daughters and took them to Ukraine has been named after refusing to bring them back, reports claim.Heiress Anna Tigipko, 34, who is the daughter of former Ukrainian deputy prime minister, Sergiy Tigipko, has ignored repeated court rulings to return her daughters.

She took her daughters on holiday to Ukraine in November 2017 after her divorce from their British father and has not come back, a court heard. Scotland Yard is investigating both the mum and her own oligarch dad - Mr Tigipko – after the 59-year-old was accused of helping his daughter in the abduction. A senior judge has now ruled that the heiress and her dad can be identified in an attempt to “shame” them into obeying the court orders. This has been seen as a landmark ruling because judges usually only name the abductors in cases like these when children's whereabouts are unknown.


It could set a precedent after Mr Justice Mostyn said “there is a strong public interest in far more press reporting of international child abduction”.Anna and Sergiy Tigipko both fought strongly against the transparency bid.The businesswoman, who ran a Harley Street clinic, married her British husband in 2012 – but they split three years later.Both their children were born in the UK.The couple lived in a Hampstead mansion until their marriage ended in late 2015.After the break-up, Miss Tigipko moved up the road with the children into a £9million home before leaving the country with them in 2017.


Reports state that she had permission to take them away for a number of weeks – but they have now settled in Kiev.In a statement, Miss Tigipko said: “The children are happy and settled now in Ukraine and their needs are best catered for in Kiev.”She insisted everything she had done since her husband left her in 2015 had been "for the welfare of my children and nobody else".The girls’ devastated dad says he has not seen his daughters since their abduction 14 months ago.


He says he never wanted full custody and was horrified when he found out they were not coming back to London.Recalling the moment he realised, he told The Times Miss Tigipko sent a short text message saying their daughters would not be on the planned flight home after their holiday in November 2017.“The nanny was in Kiev to pick up the children when I got the message saying they were not coming back,” he said.The dad cannot be named to protect the children’s identities.Banker and industrialist Mr Tigipko is one of the richest and most powerful men in Ukraine.The billionaire was an ally of Ukraine's former president, Viktor Yanukovych - serving as a vice prime minister in his administration - and twice stood as a presidential candidate himself.In recent years, he has concentrated on his business interests, and told the court he had no further interest in politics.

ByBrian Farmer - The Mirror

A Russian millionaire's ex-wife accused of abducting their two children and failing to return to the UK has been named by a judge.The wealthy tycoon is embroiled in a legal battle with his Ukrainian ex-wife over the care of their children.She is accused of taking them to her home country without his consent.The millionaire applied for her name to be revealed and won the backing of a High Court judge.This is a rare move in family law - cases are normally kept under wraps to maintain privacy.

High Court judge Mr Justice Mostyn, who ruled in the dad's favour favour, said the businessman's wife Ganna Tigipko, and her father Sergiy Tigipko, a wealthy Ukrainian politician and banker, can be named.

He said neither of the children nor their father can be named.

Ms Tigipko took their children out of London to Ukraine in breach of an order made in a family court last year, the judge heard.

Police were also investigating, he was told.

The businessman says allowing journalists to report the case more fully may help get the children back to London.Ms Tigipko and her father were against reporting restrictions being lifted, saying publicity that includes their names would harm the children.Judges overseeing such cases normally bar children from being identified because of fears that publicity will cause them harm.They do sometimes allow children whose whereabouts are unknown to be identified in the hope that publicity will help find them.

Mr Justice Mostyn analysed arguments about reporting in a private hearing at the Family Division of the High Court in London earlier this year, and made a decision in late January."Fundamentally, my decision is this: there is a reasonable prospect, if publicity is allowed, that its effect will be to make the mother and maternal grandfather see sense and to agree ... to the return of the (children) to the land of their habitual residence to live in London under the care of both of their parents," he said in a ruling.

It is my judgment that publicity is positively in the interests of these children on the specific facts of this case."Ms Tigipko and her father took part in the hearing by video link and were represented by British lawyers who were in court.The judge had embargoed reporting of his decision to give them time to appeal.Court of Appeal judges have now rejected challenges and Mr Justice Mostyn says names can be published.

Detail of the case emerged in a ruling published by Mr Justice Mostyn in April last year. That ruling followed earlier private hearings and did not identify anyone involved.Ms Tigipko, who had lived with the businessman and the children in London, wanted to move to Kiev, but Mr Justice Mostyn ruled that the youngsters should stay in London and see their father frequently.He said the couple met in Vienna in 2010, married in Ukraine in 2012 and lived in Hampstead. Their marriage ended in 2015.The businessman stayed at their home and Ms Tigipko moved to a £9million property a few minutes away.Both had developed new relationships.The businessman told Mr Justice Mostyn it was unsafe for him to travel to Ukraine because his ex-wife's father "wanted to hurt him" and could "easily" do so.

Ms Tigipko said in a statement on Monday: "Everything I have done since my first husband left me in 2015 has been for the welfare of my children and nobody else."I have never sought to turn them against their father and have always said that he is welcome to visit them in Ukraine, which he is perfectly entitled to do on his British passport."It is my honestly held belief that the children are happy and settled in Ukraine now, and their needs are best catered for in Kiev where I can care for them."

Clare Conway meets Raymond Tooth - Sunday Times Magazine

He’s ruthless, he revels in the nickname Jaws and he has the sharpest teeth in the business. Clare Conway meets Raymond Tooth, the most feared divorce lawyer in Britain. Raymond Tooth flashes an unsettling smile. His nickname is “Jaws”. He is a fearsome lawyer, Britain’s top divorce solicitor, the go-to man for anyone who wants to see their spouse humiliated, destroyed and ruined. In the 1970s, this cigar-smoking 75-year-old took on the mafia in Las Vegas and the South African government during the apartheid era. But he says crime was “boring as hell” and not as lucrative as divorce. Tooth’s selling point, which he personally revels in, is “Don’t get even — get Tooth!”

In his 35 years as a divorce lawyer, he has seen close up how the rich fight dirty in the marital battleground, he has been “attacked and bashed up” by one irate husband, and has uncovered fortunes squirrelled away by secretive ex-husbands.

Among his high-profile clients were Irina Malandina, the second wife of Roman Abramovich (£155m); Sadie Frost when she divorced Jude Law (and got £4m, the £2m house in Primrose Hill and £150,000 a year in maintenance); Pattie Boyd when she divorced Eric Clapton; and Eimear Montgomerie, former wife of Colin Montgomerie (Tooth got her a £15m settlement). Most recently he handled a 105-second quickie divorce for Jo Westwood, who was married to the disgraced celebrity publicist Max Clifford.

London has become the favoured arena for the world’s wealthiest divorcing couples. This is down to the generous settlements on offer. Anyone who can successfully argue that London is their main home can divorce in this country. What counts is getting in first and playing the system like “a game of chess”, according to Tooth.

Certainly, it seems women have the upper hand. In March, the Supreme Court ruled that Kathleen Wyatt could bring a £1.9m claim against her former husband, Dale Vince, whom she divorced 23 years earlier when they were both penniless hippies and before he became an eco-tycoon. The Supreme Court decided there is no time limit on making a claim for financial provision.

“The court will look at needs in terms of the standard of living they’ve enjoyed,” says Tooth. “If they’ve lived the lives of enormously rich people, then a driver may be suitable. We did one for a Saudi Arabian: a million [pounds] for each child a year,” he says, adding as an afterthought: “In many cases [the wives] have only flown in private jets, and the poor things have to go first class.”

And there are the arguments, tortuous squabbles “down to the spoons, even”, when dividing up a couple’s assets — all conducted against the backdrop of Tooth’s £500 hourly rate. Most divorces take no more than five days in court; Tooth’s longest case lasted three months. “On one occasion, my client — the wife — was in tears. After that, the husband was in tears. And then even I burst into tears, it was so frustrating!”

He sighs, shakes his head. “There are no winners in this.” You win? I venture. He smiles, all teeth, naturally. Most cases settle. When they don’t, it’s down to five things, says Tooth: “Husband too mean. Wife too greedy. Too much emotion. Bad legal advice. Nondisclosure of assets: fatal.” Sometimes, hidden assets can be “right in front of your face”, he says. “We had a chap who said he had no property, but we found a house he’d built in Surrey. I also found a Swiss account once, just from the back of an envelope.”

His eyes twinkle. He’s positively gleeful. “Once the judge finds out you’ve lied, you’re smashed!” Tooth represented Scot Young, the bankrupt tycoon who had been locked in a £300m divorce with his wife, Michelle, and who died last December after falling from the window of his Marylebone townhouse. “He went to prison because he didn’t comply with court orders for disclosure. He was ordered to answer this question, do that, and he didn’t do it.”

Sometimes, however, there is a happy ending, says Tooth. “I’ve known men marry their same wives again, which shows an enormous lack of imagination.” As he tells it, one husband and wife reconciled during the middle of a “very bitter” divorce. “We were just dividing up the contents of the house. They went and had a good bonk, and called the whole thing off.”

Victoria Ward - 8 Aug 2017 in London- National Post

Roman Abramovich and his third wife Dasha Zhukova at the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and his Chelsea team in 2012. Roman Abramovich ended his last marriage with a reputed settlement of 195 million — small change for a multibillionaire.

This time, the Russian oligarch and owner of the English soccer club Chelsea FC may not be so lucky, after announcing that he has separated from his third wife, Dasha Zhukova.

The couple said in a joint statement Monday they had “made the difficult decision to separate” after 10 years together.

The 50- year- old Abramovich and 36- year- old Zhukova have two children and founded the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Russia’s prominent modern art museum. The Moscow museum hosts popular exhibits and become one of the most-visited art venues in the Russian capital.

The couple said in the statement that they remain “close friends, parents, and partners” and would continue to work together on Garage and the New Holland Island cultural hub in St. Petersburg.

While they insisted the split was amicable, they could get embroiled in the world’s costliest divorce if forced to untangle the tycoon’s estimated $9.1 billion fortune.

Abramovich owns the football club, the second largest yacht in the world and several luxury properties, including a mansion in New York and a property in Kensington Palace Gardens. Among his fleet of supercars is a Ferrari FXX prototype worth around $ 1.9 million and a Bugatti Veyron, priced at $2.6 million.

However, Zhukova, an art collector, is the independently wealthy daughter of a Russian oil magnate and may not have any desire to pursue her husband for money.

In a joint statement, the couple said: “After 10 years together, the two of us have made the difficult decision to separate, but we remain close friends, parents and partners in the projects we developed together.”

Legal experts said they expected Abramovich to have a prenuptial agreement in place and any divorce proceedings would be dealt with by a Russian court in order to protect his assets, much like his previous divorce, when he is understood to have ended his 16-year marriage to second wife Irina Vyacheslavovna Malandina at a cost of $195 million in Moscow in 2007. Details have remained hidden under Russia’s secretive legal system, but it is thought Malandina was given a lump sum as well as four homes and provision for their five children.

Abramovich and Zhukova were first seen together in public in 2005. The oligarch was still married to Malandina, but their friendship strengthened and Zhukova and her father, Alexander Zhukov, were invited to Abramovich’s New Year party later that year.

Her father is an oil, metals and banking tycoon who owns a mansion block in Kensington, west London, as well as homes in New York and Moscow.

The couple married secretly around nine years ago. Their first child, Abramovich’s sixth, Aaron Alexander, was born in December 2009 and daughter Leah Lou was born in April 2013, both in the United States.

Abramovich married his first wife, Olga Yurevna Lysova, in December 1987 but was divorced just three years later. He wed Malandina in 1991, before he made his fortune in the Russian privatization boom.

Raymond Tooth, a London divorce lawyer, said it was “inconceivable” that Abramovich and Zukhova would not have a pre-nup.

“He will have done a deal and will sort it out in Russia to avoid any claims in an English court,” he said.

Richard Spillett in London & Will Stewart in Moscow - Mail Online

Chelsea owner Abramovich, 50, and his third wife Dasha Zhukova, 36 announced their shock split this week. Some are predicting it could be the most expensive divorce in history as she could get hundreds of millions. Russian media reports have now said Russian billionaire is interested in married ballerina Diana Vishneva, 41. Abramovich's circle have rebuffed the talks as 'total nonsense' and there is no evidence for any of the claims.

A married ballerina said to have sparked the interest of newly-single Roman Abramovich cheered on his Chelsea team in their first game of the new football season on Sunday.

Abramovich, 50, who is worth £7billion, and his magazine editor wife Dasha Zhukova, 36, announced this week that they 'amicably' agreed to part ways, but will continue to work together for their joint businesses and two children.

In the days since their separation, Russian media have claimed Abramovich is 'captivated' by glamorous ballerina Diana Vishneva, 41.

Ms Vishneva is currently in London with her husband Konstantin while performing in Anna Karenina with the Mariinsky Ballet at the Royal Opera House.

She posted photos of herself and other dancers during a visit to Chelsea's match with Arsenal on Sunday. It is not believed Abramovich was at the match, and he was most recently pictured in St Petersburg.

The dancer was first linked with Abramovich three years ago in Russian media reports, but those were they dismissed at the time by her father and the Chelsea tycoon, whose friends have also denied the latest claims.

Abramovich's circle have rebuffed the talk as 'total nonsense' and there is no evidence for any of the claims.

He is a known supporter of ballet and the arts, and previously paid £150,000-a-year to join the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, where some of the world's most famous dancers perform.

A spokesman for 50-year-old Abramovich refused to comment when the stories circulating in Russia were put to him.

Asked by Ren TV in Moscow if there was a reason for their separation, his spokesman was quoted as saying: 'No, and even if I was to know it, it concerns no one but them.'

Ms Vishneva declined to comment on the claims made in Russia.

Some are already predicting Abramovich's split from Dasha could lead to the world's most expensive ever divorce, with the 41-year-old possibly in line for a payout worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

The magnitude of any payout, however, is likely to depend on if the divorce is heard in the Russian courts, which may favour Roman, or the notoriously tough English courts.

It may also depend on whether Dasha signed a pre-nup — something which Raymond Tooth, the lawyer who represented Roman's second wife Irina Malandina in her 2007 divorce against Roman, said he thought was likely.

Fiercely private, the couple's 2008 marriage — which produced Aaron, seven, and Leah, four — was kept secret for six years. Indeed, Dasha has since refused to talk about either her enigmatic husband or their life together.

In a joint statement, the couple said: 'After ten years together, the two of us have made the difficult decision to separate, but we remain close friends, parents and partners in the projects we developed together.'

The oligarch consulted his second wife, Irina, about the split.

A neighbour, who previously lived near Abramovich and his ex in their Fyning Hill estate near Rogate, in West Sussex, revealed the tycoon had been working out details of his latest separation for 'some time'.

The man, who declined to be named, but remains on good terms with Irina — who got the estate as part of her 2007 settlement, said to be worth around £150 million — told the Mail: 'I'm assured that Abramovich and his wife split after Christmas, and have essentially been living separate lives for most of this year.

'Apparently, it has been a bit of a nightmare because they had to tell their two children and he had to also find an appropriate occasion to tell the five children he has with Irina.'

The news comes one week after Abramovich attended a social event in St Petersburg without Dasha.

Meanwhile, she has been seen enjoying herself on a night out in New York and was spotted back in March having dinner with the boyfriend of supermodel Karlie Kloss, investment banker Joshua Kushner, whose brother is married to Ivanka Trump.

She spent her birthday in New York with her two children and was photographed not wearing her wedding ring on June 8.

Of course, for all the reportedly amicable nature of the split, that hasn't stopped tongues wagging about how those very sizeable assets may be divided up.

Abramovich owns properties all over the world and the couple have been reported to throw lavish parties on their £1 billion luxury yacht, Eclipse — at 536ft the second-largest in the world — which boasts a helipad, submarine, hot tubs and its own disco dancefloor. Holidays are spent on the Caribbean island of St Barts.

When not bobbing around at sea, they travel in a £55 million private Boeing 767, the interior of which is reported to be a vision of deluxe chestnut wood and gold fittings, and drive around in Roman's £1.5 million custom-built Ferrari.

On land, Abramovich shares his wife's more down-to-earth hobby for cycling, but again, no expense is spared — his bike is custom-built and cost an estimated £15,000.

Even their pet dog is a pedigree corgi worth around £950. Then there's the shopping. In 2008, it was reported Abramovich went on a £60 million spree at Christie's and Sotheby's in New York, snapping up Lucian Freud's painting Benefits Supervisor Sleeping for £17 million and Francis Bacon's Triptych (1976) for £43 million a day later.

Not content with their £125 million Grade II-listed West London home — in Billionaires' Row near Kensington Palace — Abramovich was last year granted permission to transform his 'miserable' swimming pool into a £28 million subterranean complex.

As for New York, he wasn't so lucky. His plan for a £58 million mega-mansion was branded 'a whole new level of egregious consumption'.

The Russian billionaire was told by New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission that his proposal to turn three landmarked townhouses — bought over a period of 18 months — into one property was an 'unjustified tear-down'.

Roman was first introduced to Dasha at a dinner party in 2005, while he was still married to Irina Malandina, a former air stewardess.

At the point they met, his marriage to Irina was already said to be on the rocks.

The daughter of a wealthy Russian oil magnate and scientist mother, Dasha was born into the Russian intelligentsia, studied at a top U.S. university and abandoned plans to become a doctor to launch her own fashion brand.

Today, she is a renowned art collector, the editor-in-chief of her own magazine, Garage, and owns an arts centre in Russia's Gorky Park. Her non-profit Iris Foundation is dedicated to promoting contemporary culture. 

For Roman, orphaned at the age of four and said to be sensitive about his lack of education — despite business skills that turned him into a billionaire in his homeland almost overnight — intellectual, fun-loving Dasha seemed the perfect foil.

Now sources say she may have simply tired of her gilded life as wife of one of the world's richest men.

While he inhabited a macho environment with like-minded male friends and associates, she thrived in the company of artists. Abramovich biographer Chris Hutchins, co-author of The Billionaire From Nowhere, says his research suggested women would always come second to work. He doesn't drink or smoke and is no playboy. It's work and business.

Hutchins continues: 'Until now, Dasha has been content to live a gilded life alongside one of the richest men on the planet.

From a market stall selling dolls to a Chelsea mansion: The VERY different lives of Abramovich's wives

The gifts he has bought her include a $14 million Giacometti sculpture and a group of 40 paintings by the Russian artist Ilya Kabakov ($30-60 million each).'

Little is known about Roman's first wife, Olga. The couple married in 1987, but were divorced just three years later in 1990. They did not have any children together.

In 1988, as perestroika opened up opportunities for privatisation in the Soviet Union, Abramovich and Olga set up a sucessful company making dolls. Some reports have suggested his first wife received a two-bed flat and just two years' maintenance. 

After this divorce, Roman started investing in other businesses, from oil companies to pig farms, then specialising in the trading of oil and metals — which made him his fabulous wealth.

Roman and second wife Irina married in 1991. They split in 2007 amid reports that he was dating Dasha, then aged 25.

Much speculation followed as to how much their divorce settlement would be worth, with it eventually being reported that Irina had been awarded £155 million — believed to be one of the largest settlements in the world.

Her divorce lawyer, Raymond Tooth, refuses to discuss the divorce settlement but told the Mail that Abramovich's latest divorce could cost him just a fraction of his wealth, even if it amounts to hundreds of millions of pounds.

He said his 'gut feeling' was that any divorce would most likely take place in Russia where pre-nuptial agreements are honoured without question and the courts don't award maintenance to wives.

He added: 'There are probably two countries [where it could take place] — England and Russia. There's probably most certainly a pre-nuptial agreement. In Russia, if you enter into that sort of agreement, that would be the end of the story. You cannot get maintenance in Russia for women, only for children.

'But I doubt whether there will be a fight — and there will be an agreement. It won't be billions. But it certainly could be hundreds of millions.'

'One reason is because England is seen as extremely fair. The English courts see them as equal partners. They will look at what they have accumulated over the years of that marriage and will look to share it out.

'That's the yardstick they are working from. In that context, you could be looking at a huge sum, potentially. If it happens in Russia, she might get an awful lot less.'