News | World News | Millionaire Eurocrat Una Kelly banned from divorcing in England

Millionaire Eurocrat Una Kelly banned from divorcing in England

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  • Una Kelly met her 73 year-old husband in late 1990s while working in Brussels
  • Miss Kelly, who grew up in Ireland, married Indian-born John Pyres in 2005
  • She wanted to get divorced in UK but top judges ruled she is not 'domiciled' here
  • Her lawyers denied she had no attachment to the country because she wrote a university paper on country houses which 'demonstrated a passion for England'

By Ed Riley For Mailonline

Published: 09:05 EDT, 14 June 2018 | Updated: 10:24 EDT, 14 June 2018

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A millionaire Eurocrat who married her husband after meeting him at the European Commission has been banned from divorcing in England by top judges.

Una Kelly, 44, met John Pyres, 73, whilst they were both working in Brussels in the late 1990s and enjoyed a 'sumptuous' Italian wedding in 2005.

She grew up in Ireland and briefly studied in Manchester, while Indian-born Mr Pyres had previously lived in the UK and owned a £2.5million house in Fulham, west London.

Miss Kelly, who had two children with Mr Pyres before they separated in 2015, fought to end the marriage in England, were divorce payouts are often viewed as more generous.

Una Kelly
Una Kelly
John Pyres
John Pyres

Una Kelly (left), 44, and John Pyres (right), 73, met while working at the European Commission in Brussels in the late 1990s and married at an Italian wedding in 2005

But now Appeal Court judges have dashed her hopes, ruling that her globe-trotting working life means she is not 'domiciled' in England.

Although born in England, Miss Kelly spent the whole of her childhood in Ireland, said Lady Justice King.

And, after her high-powered career as a European diplomat took her abroad, she had not lived in the UK for 17 years, she added.

Miss Kelly said she considered England her 'adopted home' and that she had 'a singular and distinctive relationship' with this country.

But the judge said that any visits she made to Britain had been just 'passing through' and she had shown little 'emotional attachment' to the UK.

Indian-born Mr Pyres had previously lived in the UK and owned a £2.5million house in Fulham, west London (pictured)
Indian-born Mr Pyres had previously lived in the UK and owned a £2.5million house in Fulham, west London (pictured)

Indian-born Mr Pyres had previously lived in the UK and owned a £2.5million house in Fulham, west London (pictured)

Although her finances were centred on Britain, and she came to London for medical treatment, that did not make her domiciled here.

'She demonstrated no personal nexus, never choosing to spend time, or just enjoy being in, what was supposed to her adopted home,' said the judge.

Miss Kelly claimed she intended to retire to England, but the judge said that would be 'in several decades time, some 36 years after her last period of residence'.

Apart from her time as a student in Manchester in her 20s, her longest period of residence in England was 11 months, when she was working here in the early 2000s.

The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Newey and Mr Justice MacDonald, agreed that she had never lost her 'domicile of origin' in Ireland.

Apart from her time as a student in Manchester in her 20s, the longest period of Miss Kelly's residence in England was 11 months, when she was working here in the early 2000s
Apart from her time as a student in Manchester in her 20s, the longest period of Miss Kelly's residence in England was 11 months, when she was working here in the early 2000s

Apart from her time as a student in Manchester in her 20s, the longest period of Miss Kelly's residence in England was 11 months, when she was working here in the early 2000s

Although a British passport holder, she had left this country at 'a young and itinerant age' and had never made her home here.

Indian-born Mr Pyres came to Britain with his parents in 1957, when he was aged 13, and later bought two properties here, including the six-bedroom house in Fulham.

He worked in England as a civil servant for more than 20 years, but was seconded to the EU in Luxembourg, and later Brussels, in 1997.

Mr Pyres, now retired, met Miss Kelly through their work at the EU Commission and they had their wedding reception at his Tuscan farmhouse in 2005.

The couple described themselves as 'British subjects' in their pre-nuptial agreement, but stated that they were 'habitually resident and domiciled in Italy'.

By 2006, they were in 'a long-distance marriage', with him on an EU posting in Sarajevo, whilst she was working in Albania.

They were reunited three years later, when she was sent to the EU delegation in Bosnia, but by that time their marriage was in trouble.

'In an attempt to salvage their marriage, they attended marriage counselling in London' but, by 2015, their relationship was over.

Charles Hale QC, for Miss Kelly, denied that she had no emotional attachment to England, pointing to the paper she wrote for her Master's degree.

'She demonstrated her passion for England by writing a thesis on English Country Houses,' he told the court.

She considered the house, in Radipole Road, Fulham, as her home, storing her belongings, including expensive mahogany furniture, there.

Throughout her adult life, she had 'an anchor laid in London', paying UK taxes and registered to a GP in Fulham, said the barrister.

Miss Kelly, the court heard, was born in Stoke on Trent, where her father was a surgeon, but the family moved back to Ireland when she was a baby.

Mr Pyres said his ex-wife had shown no 'emotional warmth or attachment' to England, or even suggested that she likes it here.

It was only after she filed for divorce in this country in 2015 that she began describing herself as Irish-British, he claimed.

Ruling out divorce proceedings in England today, Lady Justice King said Miss Kelly had been resident in England for only 29 months since 1995.

She had 'not formed the necessary intention to leave behind her domicile of origin in Ireland and acquire a domicile of choice in England,' the judge concluded.  

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