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Petra Ecclestone and James Stunt's divorce is granted

  • The warring couple had been gearing up for a court battle over their estimated £5.5billion fortune
  • But they came to an agreement before today's planned legal wrangle and had divorce papers signed at court
  • A previous hearing to evict Mr Stunt from family home was told he'd been abusive and violent during marriage
  • Ms Ecclestone's famous father tells of his relief at the news as her sister Tamara tells her to stay strong 

By Richard Spillett for MailOnline

Published: 06:27 EDT, 12 October 2017 | Updated: 10:16 EDT, 12 October 2017

The family of Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone have told of their relief after his daughter's acrimonious divorce was finally ended in a five-minute court heard.

Petra Ecclestone and her businessman husband James Stunt have been back and forth to court this year as they geared up for a bitter fight over their £5.5million fortune.

But when their heavyweight legal teams came before a judge again today it emerged the warring pair have agreed what will be one of Britain's biggest ever divorce settlements.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Ecclestone told MailOnline: 'I'm just glad it's over. Petra is too. She has been very tolerant and has been concerned about James.

'Now we are going for a family meal, but we were doing that anyway. No champagne, no big celebration. Just Petra and her sister, me, her mother and the family.' 

Ms Ecclestone's sister Tamara also posted her support online, with an Instagram message reading: 'You're a diamond dear, they can't break you.' 

Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone (pictured earlier this year) and her husband James Stunt have agreed what will be one of Britain's biggest divorce settlements ahead of a planned court battle today
Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone (pictured earlier this year) and her husband James Stunt have agreed what will be one of Britain's biggest divorce settlements ahead of a planned court battle today
Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone and her husband James Stunt (pictured, left, earlier this year) have agreed what will be one of Britain's biggest divorce settlements ahead of a planned court battle today
Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone and her husband James Stunt (pictured, left, earlier this year) have agreed what will be one of Britain's biggest divorce settlements ahead of a planned court battle today

Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone (left) and her husband James Stunt (pictured, left in right image, earlier this year) have agreed what will be one of Britain's biggest divorce settlements ahead of a planned court battle today

The couple, pictured together in 2015 married in Italy six years ago and had homes in Los Angeles and London's Chelsea
The couple, pictured together in 2015 married in Italy six years ago and had homes in Los Angeles and London's Chelsea

The couple, pictured together in 2015 married in Italy six years ago and had homes in Los Angeles and London's Chelsea

Tamara posted this picture on Instagram this afternoon in an apparent message to her sister that the worst was now over
Tamara posted this picture on Instagram this afternoon in an apparent message to her sister that the worst was now over

Tamara posted this picture on Instagram this afternoon in an apparent message to her sister that the worst was now over

Neither Ms Ecclestone, 28, or Mr Stunt, 35, were in court for the short hearing, and details of how their assets will be split have not been made public. 

Mr Stunt said after the hearing: 'I am devastated that my marriage has broken down. I love Petra and our children.'

He said the couple's 'most important responsibility' was now 'being mother and father to our wonderful children'.

A representative for Mr Stunt said afterwards that he wanted to remain 'firm friends' with his now-ex-wife. 

The settlement comes after a bad-tempered court hearing earlier this year was told Mr Stunt was abusive, violent and took overdoses during his marriage to the glamorous heiress.

Judges had previous warned the pair that being locked in long-running litigation over the split would only make matters worse for all involved. 

On being told the parties had come to an agreement, Judge Tolson said: 'I'm delighted about that and I congratulate both parties.'

Philip Cayford QC, representing Mr Stunt, said: 'Clearly both parties have come to agreement which is an extremely desirable outcome.'  

Ms Ecclestone's famous father, Bernie, had attended a previous divorce hearing after heavyweight lawyers were brought in to battle the big-money case
Ms Ecclestone's famous father, Bernie, had attended a previous divorce hearing after heavyweight lawyers were brought in to battle the big-money case
Ms Ecclestone and her daughter after a previous court hearing
Ms Ecclestone and her daughter after a previous court hearing

Ms Ecclestone's famous father, Bernie, had attended a previous divorce hearing after heavyweight lawyers were brought in to battle the big-money case. He said his family were relieved the legal battle had finally come to an end today

The tycoon's family have planned a meal together tonight as they recover from a difficult year while the feud bubbled on
The tycoon's family have planned a meal together tonight as they recover from a difficult year while the feud bubbled on

The tycoon's family have planned a meal together tonight as they recover from a difficult year while the feud bubbled on

Mr Stunt was forced to move out of the couple's Chelsea mansion following a court hearing earlier this year
Mr Stunt was forced to move out of the couple's Chelsea mansion following a court hearing earlier this year

Mr Stunt was forced to move out of the couple's Chelsea mansion following a court hearing earlier this year

The out-of-court settlement meant a two-day public hearing to decide who should get what after their split was avoided.

Ms Ecclestone and Mr Stunt had been expected to fight over their £158million mansion in Los Angeles and a Grade II-listed home in London's Chelsea, worth up to £100million.

At a hearing earlier this year, the family court was told Mr Stunt had signed a prenuptial agreement worth £16million.

The pair had hired some of the country's most high profile divorce lawyers to represent them as they fought over how to divide their wealth. 

Ms Ecclestone's legal team included Baroness Fiona Shackleton, who represented Sir Paul McCartney in his divorce battle with Heather Mills.

Among the couple's homes is this lavish £10million mansion in Chelsea, west London
Among the couple's homes is this lavish £10million mansion in Chelsea, west London

Among the couple's homes is this lavish £10million mansion in Chelsea, west London

They also had a £65million property in Los Angeles, called The Manor, pictured, which was said to have been put up for sale last year for £150million
They also had a £65million property in Los Angeles, called The Manor, pictured, which was said to have been put up for sale last year for £150million

They also had a £65million property in Los Angeles, called The Manor, pictured, which was said to have been put up for sale last year for £150million

Ms Ecclestone's lawyers instigated an earlier hearing to force her estranged husband to move out of their 14-bedroom home in Chelsea so she and their three children could live there.

Speaking earlier this year, Mr Ecclestone said his daughter had 'suffered an awful lot' and that he 'couldn't bear for her to suffer any more'.

He added: 'She left there a few months ago when she couldn't take any more. He is refusing to leave. The judge told him to leave by Friday. I am sure he will because, if not, it is an order of the court and the police will make sure he goes'. 

Mr Stunt was later pictured smoking a cigarette and clutching two blue china cats as a cavalcade of cars swept him away from the property. 

The businessman, who runs an international gold bullion firm, assets were also said to include a wine collection worth up to £15million and two Chelsea properties worth up to £4million each, a previous hearing was told.

The couple are believed to have first met on a blind date in 2006. They married six years ago at a multi-million-pound ceremony at Odescalchi Castle, Rome, when they and 350 guests were entertained by an array of pop stars. They have three children together, aged between four and two. 

The signing of the decree nisi means the couple will be able to apply for a decree absolute in six weeks, officially ending the marriage. 

 


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