The founder of green energy company Ecotricity is fighting a claim for maintenance from the wife he divorced more than 20 years ago.
Dale Vince, now 51, founded the successful wind energy supplier in 1995, three years after completing his divorce from Kathleen Wyatt. The company, based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, now has more than 70,000 customers and a multi-million pound turnover. He received an OBE for services to the environment in 2004.
But Ms Wyatt is now pursuing her former husband through the courts for financial support. Earlier this week, he appealed a refusal of the High Court to dismiss her claim and pay £125,000 towards his former wife’s legal costs.
The pair had a son called Dane before going their separate ways. Mr Vince became a New Age traveller.
When the divorce completed, Mr Vince was not ordered to pay maintenance because he was penniless at the time. He told the Civil Appeal Court that he had made a full disclosure of his finances to the Child Support Agency in 1996 when he received a ‘nil’ assessment for contributions. He also denied her claims that their relationship been repeatedly rekindled.
But Ms Wyatt’s legal team claimed he had given her only small amounts of financial support and had pressured her children into not telling her about the success of his business. Her barrister Philip Cayfod QC told the court:
“Ms Wyatt repeatedly asked for financial assistance and whether he was going to pay the children more than just pocket money as he was building up his business. He treated her with contempt. He said if she could not afford to maintain the children, they could live with him.”
Mr Vince, who now lives in am 18th Century fort worth more than £3 million, founded Ecotricity with a single wind turbine.
Ms Wyatt is a former aid worker and lives in Monmouthshire.
Sitting in the Court of Appeal, Lord Justices Thorpe, Jackson and Tomlinson reserved judgement on Mr Vince’s appeal until a later a date. Judge Jackson said they would have have to decide whether his former wife’s claim was “so old and stale” it should not be allowed to go forward.