The wife of one of Northern Ireland’s most prominent businessmen was told by a judge to stop “laughing and smirking” during an assault case she brought against him in which he was found not guilty.
In court yesterday District Judge Neil Rafferty dismissed allegations that hotel tycoon Lord Diljit Rana (73) had subjected his wife, Lady Shruti Rana, to a “brutal and sustained” attack at his Belfast offices.
Lady Rana — who is 23 years her husband’s junior — claimed Lord Rana became enraged, grabbed her under the arms and forced her against a wall after she accused him of lying about a business meeting.
Yesterday, under questioning, the multi-millionaire businessman insisted his wife had been telling lies about the day at his office.
The court heard the incident was the final straw in the couple’s relationship.
After two days of evidence, Judge Rafferty found Lord Rana not guilty on the assault charge.
Belfast Magistrates Court heard allegations that the Indian-born hotelier had twisted Lady Rana’s flesh during the disputed confrontation at Andras House in Belfast on April 1 last year.
Judge Rafferty said that if the assault had happened as described by Lady Rana he would be stunned if the injuries were “not much more significant than a 2x3cm bruise on the inner aspect of her arm”.
The pair are currently divorcing.
Lord Rana said there had been difficulties in the marriage. His wife had only spent 41 days in Northern Ireland during a six-month period from September 2010 to February 2011.
In court yesterday Lord Rana was joined by his son, Rajesh along with other members of his family.
Sitting across the court was his wife, alongside police officers who had been dealing with the case. At one stage, the judge paused briefly after apparently becoming riled with Lady Rana’s behaviour in court — asking her to stop “laughing and smirking”.
Under cross-examination from prosecuting barrister Philip Henry, Lord Rana was questioned about the allegations put forward by his wife in the courtroom.
“You hoisted her out of her chair?” he asked him, to which Lord Rana replied: “Absolutely fabricated lies.”
Asked whether he pushed her against the wall, Lord Rana responded: “Totally fabricated.”
In his conclusions, Judge Rafferty ruled: “I do not accept the nature of the assault alleged by the prosecution, given both the limit of the injuries and subsequent reporting of the injuries.”
Lord Diljit Singh Rana (73) is an Indian-born entrepreneur who moved to Northern Ireland in 1966 and has been a prominent hotelier since — owning several establishments including the Ramada at Shaws Bridge. Awarded an MBE in 1996, he is a member of the House of Lords and in June 2004 was created a life peer as Baron Rana. In Ireland’s Rich List 2012 his wealth is estimated at £74m.