Judge condemns 'crazy' couple for spending £1.5m in £10m divorce battle


An estranged couple behind a firm that supplies towels and bathrobes to top hotels have ruffled a High Court judge by spending "crazy" amounts on lawyers during a divorce fight.

Mr Justice Holman said Barbara Cooke, 57, and Michael Parker, 54, had run up legal bills of around £1.5 million while arguing about dividing assets possibly in the region of £10 million.

The judge said if couples were fighting over £100 million then spending £1 million on lawyers would be proportionate.

He said Ms Cooke and Mr Parker - directors of BC Softwear, based in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire - are not in that bracket.

He said they had already spent at least 15% of their wealth and should negotiate.

The judge raised concern when considering pre-trial issues at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

"I have come across litigation that loses all sense of costs proportionality but I have rarely come across it on this scale," Mr Justice Holman told Ms Cooke and Mr Parker.

"This is crazy."

The judge said he could not stop people fighting in court if litigation was their "hobby", but he suggested that if the "war" continued there might be no money left.

"Ultimately if there is nothing left at the end, there is nothing left at the end," he said.

"But it won't be Maseratis ... will it? It will be a beaten up old Ford if you're lucky."

He added: "Ultimately people can just litigate to the end and bankrupt themselves."

BC Softwear bills itself as a supplier of "luxury bathrobes and towels for the best hotels, luxury spas and laundries across the UK and Europe".

"Our towels are designed specifically for the most discerning customers," says the company website.

"BC Softwear is the towelling company behind many of the UK's most prestigious hotels and spas including Chewton Glen, Dolphin Square Spa, The Dorchester, Pennyhill Park, Hoar Cross Hall, Ockenden Manor & Spa and Fairmont St Andrews Hotel & Spa to name just a few.

"We have an enviable reputation for the highest-quality towels and robes that stay softer and fluffier for longer than the average towelling product."