Belfast Telegraph

Iranian businessman in divorce fight with estranged Irish wife

A wealthy Iranian businessman is embroiled in a divorce court fight with his estranged Irish wife.

Diplomat's son Mehrdad Radseresht, who is in his 70s, says Barbara Spain-Radseresht, who is in her 40s and used to work in the travel industry, agreed to a divorce when they lived in the Middle East more than seven years ago.

Mrs Spain-Radseresht, who comes from Dublin and now lives in London, disputes his claim and says she is entitled to a fair share of a marital fortune running into tens of millions of pounds.

A High Court judge has been asked to make decisions about the validity of the marriage.

Mr Justice Cohen is analysing evidence at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

He said the couple could be named.

Mr Radseresht told Mr Justice Cohen they reached a settlement agreement in Dubai in 2009 after Mrs Spain-Radseresht was unfaithful.

Mrs Spain-Radseresht said she was tricked into signing paperwork.

She said she found out about the "alleged Dubai divorce" a year ago when she made a separate divorce application.

Mr Radseresht is represented by barrister Joe Rainer at the trial, and Mrs Spain-Radseresht is representing herself.

Mr Radseresht, who has worked in the food industry, told the judge: "A divorce was agreed."

He said he had not forced Mrs Spain-Radseresht to do anything and said he still loved her.

"You wanted a divorce and you got one," Mr Radseresht told Mrs Spain-Radseresht, adding: "Now you want money."

Mr Radseresht asked the judge to police Mrs Spain-Radseresht when she asked him questions.

"Please make her refrain from theatrics, from making faces at me," he said.

He said of Mrs Spain-Radseresht: "Any time I would say 'cry' she cries. (She) could cry now if she wanted to. She's professional at that."

He told Mrs Spain-Radseresht: "When you miss a flight and you start crying and we get a flight somehow."

Mrs Spain-Radseresht told Mr Justice Cohen she had not knowingly signed any divorce paperwork in 2009.

She said she had "no idea what was going on".

"It's probable that I signed it in a pile of documents and I didn't know what I was signing. I trusted my husband."

She added: "I felt really bad after my affair so I did whatever he said to make him happy."

Mrs Spain-Radseresht said the whole divorce was a forgery and told the judge: "He definitely tricked me."

She said: "He really put me under a lot of pressure after he found out about my liaison."

Mrs Spain-Radseresht, who wept at times as she gave evidence, said they were together for more than 20 years.

She claimed Mr Radseresht threatened her, adding: "He said I could stone you to death or have you executed."

"I stayed with someone who was nasty 95% of the time. At times it was nice but it just got worse.

"He was out to kill me. He was out to destroy me psychologically."

Mr Justice Cohen heard that the couple had lived in Dubai, Iran, London, and California.

Mrs Spain-Radseresht also told of two palaces in Iran with a combined value of more than £5 million and a home in Ireland.

The hearing continues and is expected to end later this week.

:: In 2005, a former United States ambassador to Somalia praised Mr Radseresht as a "fearless" businessman in a American newspaper article.

Dan Simpson told how in 1994 Mr Radseresht had wanted to revive Somalian banana cultivation and exports.

"Into my office one day walked a middle-aged businessman in a suit, the managing director of Dole foods in the Middle East. He was a naturalised American, the son of an Iranian diploma," Mr Simpson wrote in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"He introduced himself as Mehrdad Radseresht and said he was there to talk with me about the possibility of reviving Somali banana cultivation and exports."

Mr Simpson added: "This is a man with courage, imagination and a sharp eye for spotting a promising business opportunity.

"He is also an example of the best kind of American businessman - one who never loses sight of the well-being of the producers.

"May the Mehrdads of this world be fruitful and multiply. America needs them."

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