British expatriate in Dubai denies he refuses to pay ex-wife £2 million in divorce battle

Businessman Paul Grundy has been told by a court in London that he must pay up or face jail but he says he has never claimed poverty, he just cannot pay amount in lump sum.

Paul Grundy, 50, said it would take him four years to pay his former wife the full amount of the divorce settlement.  Courtesy of Paul Grundy
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DUBAI // A British expatriate who has been ordered by London’s High Court to give his former wife £2 million in a divorce settlement has denied reports that he refuses to pay.

The court ruled that Paul Grundy, 50, the managing director of S&B Fencing Fixing, must pay 48-year-old Jennifer Francis the money, which amounts to Dh12.6m, in one lump sum or face a six-week jail sentence, after which he will still have to pay. The sentence has been suspended for three months.

“I am willing to pay but unable to do so in one lump sum but, between the judge and Jeni, they ignore commercial realities and refuse periodic payments,” Mr Grundy said, adding that he was not penniless, as his former wife’s lawyer had suggested.

“I do not claim poverty, I claim it cannot all be paid in one lump sum as the court and [my ex-wife] want,” he said. “I should be able to pay in instalments like any other normal divorce settlement.”

British newspaper reports suggested that Mr Grundy had been living a lavish lifestyle in the sun while his former wife struggled to make ends meet.

Mr Grundy said that it would take him four years to pay Ms Francis the full amount.

“Statements that I live lavishly are untrue. I work very hard and anyone will tell you,” he said. “I do not spend lavishly, that is their opinion.”

Mr Grundy has full custody of the 17-year-old son he has with Ms Francis and pays for his education at a top school in England.

“The private boarding school is one of the most expensive in the UK, and it was chosen by Jeni. I pay for that attendance over £40,000 a year,” he said, adding that a lot of his earnings were spent on his son and his budding career as a racing driver.

“The school contains many celebrities and GCC royals, and thus appearances have to be kept. It would have been unfair to uproot my son and have him change schools and friends when I won custody nearly two years ago,” Mr Grundy said.

“I have not driven on any tracks, it’s all our son’s fledgling career in motorsport.

“All accusations about racetracks and spending a lot of money on expensive brands are taken out of context. It makes it seem like I go to Yas Island every weekend.”

He also denied that he drove a £60,000 Lamborghini Gallardo, saying that he sold it about 18 months ago.

Mr Grundy claimed that he had already given his former wife £1.7m before the judge ruled that he still owed her another £2.3m.

“I’ve have had to sell my two houses and pay her £1.7m already,” he said, while also claiming that the money in their bank account was split when they separated and the latest payment he made to her was a token sum of £358,000 in shares last month.

“We separated in 2006-2007, and she remained in Dubai until 2009, during which I was providing her with a villa, and I had moved out,” said Mr Grundy.

“She claims she cannot afford to buy a house for one person? This, I’m sure, would be offensive to most people struggling to live in the UK.”

Mr Grundy added that he now lived in a rented two-bedroom apartment.

He said that the judge in the UK had no idea of what business was like in Dubai.

“They don’t think highly of Dubai and think everyone goes around driving fancy cars and living a lavish lifestyle – they don’t realise how hard we work,” he said.

“Again, I am not thwarting justice, I am trying to get a reasonable time to pay.”

As to whether he thought he would have to serve time in prison, Mr Grundy said: “Not if I can help it.”