A divorcee who won £90 million from her first husband has won the right to sue another lover for tens of millions in a UK court - after calling him an "emotionally abusive gold-digger".

Mandy Gray, 50, is battling her fitness coach ex-boyfriend, New Zealander Hamish Hurley, over assets including an Italian villa and a fleet of supercars.

Gray had a six-year relationship with Hurley following her 2013 divorce from investment manager Randy Work, but they broke up earlier this year.

Hurley claims a share of the couple's lucrative assets but Gray insists they are hers alone.

Advertisement

Today a judge ruled that the legal battle must be decided in the UK.

Mr Justice Lavender also ruled that Gray had validly served court documents on 46-year-old Hurley - despite sending them via a WhatsApp message.

Hurley had wanted the case resolved in his native New Zealand.

The court heard that Hurley was Gray's personal coach at the KX Gym in Chelsea, where he worked as a neuromuscular therapist, before they began a relationships.

Gray ended the relationship in January this year. Gray dumped Hurley while they were holidaying in Malta and things quickly turned ugly as they fought over the ownership of $39m of property purchased during their relationship.

Hurley had "proposed marriage on several occasions, but Ms Gray refused", the judge noted.

The pair are battling in the courts over £7m ($NZ13.3m) cash, a farm in New Zealand, an Italian villa, and a fleet of four rare and exquisite "supercars" - said to be worth "a good few million".

The car collection includes a Ferrari 458 Speciale, a Pagani Huayra Coupe, a Pagani Zonda R and a Ferrari F1.

One of the supercars under dispute, a Pagani, is worth almost $2 million.
One of the supercars under dispute, a Pagani, is worth almost $2 million.

Hurley, who has launched a rival lawsuit in New Zealand, is claiming a share of the assets, saying they were handed to him as gifts by his rich lover during their relationship.

Gray however says she alone stumped up the cash to purchase the disputed assets, the court heard, and that she never intended to "gift" any part of them to Hurley.

Finding for Gray and ordering the fight to be heard by UK judges, Mr Justice Lavender said: "Ms Gray issued the claim form in the present action and obtained an order for alternative service, pursuant to which she served the claim form on Mr Hurley by Whatsapp message.

"I conclude that Ms Gray was entitled to serve the claim form on Mr Hurley out of the jurisdiction," he added.

"England was his last known domicile... I have come to the conclusion that England is clearly the appropriate forum for the trial of Ms Gray's claims," he went on.

"The parties and their dispute had a substantial connection with England, it was in England more than anywhere else that the relationship at issue was carried on and that Ms Gray entered into transactions or authorised payments, allegedly acting under Mr Hurley's undue influence and without intending to make gifts to him.

"No other forum appears to be suitable for the trial of the dispute as a whole," the judge concluded.

Mandy Gray at a previous court hearing.
Mandy Gray at a previous court hearing.

Jonathan Cohen, Gray's QC, in court papers presented during the hearing of the case, claimed Hurley "expended approximately £7million of Ms Gray's money on failed internet marketing business ventures in the United States".

Hurley deployed "undue influence" against Gray in relation to his doomed business venture, alleged Cohen, adding: "On Ms Gray's case, she was no more than Hurley's vehicle for his enrichment and he was the archetypal gold-digger, par excellence."

He planned to use his lover "as a means to get his 'wish list' of assets," claimed the QC.

But Hurley's barrister flatly rejected the claims against his client.

"Their relationship was intense, intimate, loving, consensual and collaborative," Bailey insisted, highlighting 40,000 social media messages testifying to their past commitment.

Gray had now "recast the entirety of their relationship", he said, wrongly presenting Hurley as "manipulative and controlling".

Hurley had returned home to New Zealand to live with his parents after she ended their relationship, which initially left both of them 'very saddened,' said Bailey.

But during their time together they bought property around the world, with Gray "providing the funds for their joint life together - building for their future".

"But now she has changed her mind about Hamish, she wants it all back."

The case continues.