Acting Business Editor for the NZ Herald

Why a millionaire and his mistress-turned-partner kept their names secret

The businessman's affair with his mistress began around 1980 and she began working for his company the following year. Photo / iStock
The businessman's affair with his mistress began around 1980 and she began working for his company the following year. Photo / iStock

A wealthy Christchurch businessman and his mistress-turned-partner should not have got name suppression from the Family Court, say three Court of Appeal judges.

The Court of Appeal yesterday refused the businessman and the woman leave to appeal in a wrangle with his ex-wife over a share of a multi-million dollar divorce payment.

In that decision - from Justices John Wild, Christine French and Brendan Brown - the trio said they were not convinced there was a proper basis for name suppression under either the Family Courts Act or under the Court of Appeal's powers.

The businessman's ex-wife said she never supported name suppression.

The lawyers for the man (who the court called Mr K) and his mistress-turned-partner (referred to as Ms M) argued the pair qualify as "vunerable persons".

But the judges believed none of these arguments "demonstrates any particular susceptibility beyond the usual desire to keep private lives out of the public eye".

"We remain of the view there is no justification under the Family Courts Act for name suppression and but for one consideration we would not grant it. The one consideration is that because name suppression was granted without any question in both lower courts, Mr K and Ms M would have made their application for leave on the assumption their identities would continue to be protected. In those circumstances, we consider it just to continue suppression," Justice French said on behalf of the trio.

Justice French said the Court of Appeal granting name suppression in this case was not be treated as precedent.

The woman and the businessman - who are still together - had earlier sought to appeal a court ruling which said she wasn't his de-facto partner and therefore not entitled to a share of relationship property.

After the wealthy businessman and his wife split in 2007 after 47 years of marriage, there were two two relationship property claims made in the Family Court - one from his ex-wife and the other from his mistress-turned-parter who was also a long-serving employee.

The value of the relationship property at issue was somewhere between $22 million (on the wife's calculations) and $16 million (on the husband's), according to a High Court decision from last year.

The businessman's affair with his former mistress, and now partner, began around 1980 and she began working for his company the following year, according to the High Court.

- NZ Herald

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