Ex-beauty queen returns to court after divorce battle with Laura Ashley boss

A 72-year-old former beauty queen who was married to a Laura Ashley boss has returned to a divorce court 18 months after a judge decided that she should walk away with a £64 million financial package.

Mr Justice Bodey ruled that 80-year-old Khoo Kay Peng, who is based in Malaysia and is non-executive chairman of Laura Ashley Holdings, should hand Pauline Chai, who was Miss Malaysia 1969, 40% of a marital asset kitty of around £160 million.

He analysed the dispute at hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London and published a ruling in April 2017.

The same judge on Thursday finished overseeing a private follow-up hearing which began earlier this week.

Lawyers discussed issues relating to arrangements for the payment of a lump sum of around £40 million which was part of the £64 million package.

Khoo Kay Peng and Pauline Chai divorce
Khoo Kay Peng and Pauline Chai divorce

Limits have been placed on what journalists can reveal about the hearing in media reports.

Another judge had at an earlier stage of the litigation made an order barring certain financial detail from being revealed in media reports.

Ms Chai, who lives on an estate in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, was at the hearing.

Mr Justice Bodey had last year described the pair’s cash battle as “titanic”.

Ms Chai and Dr Khoo, who both come from Malaysia, married in 1970 and have five children.

The judge said they had been fighting in courts in England and Malaysia for at least three years and had run up nearly £9 million in lawyers’ bills in England alone

They had been unable to agree on whether decisions about who got what should be made in English or Malaysian courts.

Dr Khoo said the marital home was in Malaysia and a judge in that country should make decisions about the division of money.

He said Ms Chai was a “forum shopper” and wanted to fight in England because an English judge would give her a more generous award.

Ms Chai said they had moved their home to Berkhamsted before separating and therefore decisions should be made in an English court.

In December 2015, Ms Chai claimed victory in the fight over jurisdiction following a ruling by three Court of Appeal judges in London.