A piece in today’s Times:
A senior BBC executive who fought to stop her unemployed former husband obtaining half of her £2.7 million pension has been ordered to pay him hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Tessa Finch, 57, a former executive producer for The One Show and the BBC’s head of development who is expected to be made redundant this September, had asked judges to reduce the financial award made to Barry Baker, whom she accused of having no contact with their two children since the couple divorced five years ago.
The Court of Appeal was told that Ms Finch, who earns £160,000 a year, [J4MB: More than Boris Johnson earns from being Prime Minister] is expected to be made redundant by the corporation after a leave of absence on health grounds.
Mr Baker has debts of about £66,000 and is lodging at a friend’s home. When the couple divorced the court awarded Mr Baker, now 69, a lump sum of £814,000 and more than 48 per cent of his former wife’s pension pot. That was reduced to a £733,650 lump sum and a third of Ms Finch’s BBC pension. The second ruling allowed Ms Finch to retain £1.58 million in assets.
However, Ms Finch also challenged this ruling. Her lawyers told the Court of Appeal that her former husband had a “significantly negative” contribution to the family and its financial affairs during the 20-year marriage, which meant that the second ruling had still awarded him too great a share of her pension pot. [J4MB emphasis: Have you ever heard of a man making the point that his ex-wife made a “significantly negative” contribution to the family and its financial affairs, when dividing assets post-divorce. No, nor have I. Women’s default setting is that money must always flow from men to them, never the reverse.]
Yesterday Lords Justice Moylan, Lewison and Nugee dismissed Ms Finch’s appeal and ruled that the original order handed down by the divorce judge should stand.
In the ruling, which was led by Lord Justice Moylan, the court pointed out that Mr Baker had not worked for some time, and “the extent to which he was employed during the marriage was an issue between the parties”.
The couple met 21 years ago, were married in 1993 and had twins in 2011. They separated in 2012-13. Mr Baker left their former matrimonial home but Ms Finch and the children remained there.
The judges were told that by the time of the divorce hearing in 2016 before a district judge, Mr Baker was living as a lodger in a friend’s property and his wife claimed that he had “not sought to have any real contact with the children since the separation”.
In determining the divorce award, the original judge was told that Ms Finch held a private pension with a cash equivalent value of £13,000 in addition to a “very substantial” BBC pension. In 2017 Ms Finch’s pension from the corporation was valued at about £2.1 million.
At the same time, Mr Baker’s state pension was worth about £7,000 a year and the court said he had a £12,000 private pension that produced an annual income of about £900. The court was also told that Mr Baker had debts of about £66,000, which comprised mainly of “a legal fees loan and a credit card loan”.
It was also established that the couple had joint ownership of several properties, including about £220,000 in equity in their former matrimonial home. Other properties had a combined value of nearly £2 million.
Rejecting Ms Finch’s claim, Lord Justice Moylan agreed with the earlier ruling that Mr Baker had made “a modest contribution” to the family’s financial position.
The judge added that the broadcasting executive’s complaints about her former husband’s “conduct” were “not a relevant issue”.
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