Wealthy Sheffield businessman makes fresh offer to baroness in divorce court battle
A rich Sheffield businessman embroiled in a High Court fight over money following the breakdown of his three-year marriage to a wealthy Austrian baroness has made a fresh proposal after a judge said their case should be easy to settle.
Mr Justice Holman urged engineering firm boss, and Conservative Party donor, Sir Andrew Cook and interior designer Angelika Hirsch-Stronstorff to reach agreement after being told they had run up £1 million in lawyers' bills, while arguing over less than £2m.
The judge, who is overseeing a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London - which began on Tuesday and is due to run for two weeks - said they have spent "very, very disproportionate" amounts on legal costs. He urged them to reach a settlement and put their fight "to bed."
Sir Andrew and Baroness Hirsch-Stronstorff returned to court on Thursday and the trial is continuing.
But lawyers representing Sir Andrew told a judge he had made his ex-wife a fresh proposal.
Evidence shows Sir Andrew - chairman of William Cook, a firm based just off the Sheffield Parkway, which produces components for the rail, energy and defence industries - is worth about £25m and Baroness Hirsch-Stronstorff about £4m, the judge has said. He has been told no-one is arguing their combined wealth should be shared. Lawyers representing Baroness Hirsch-Stronstorff told the judge on Tuesday that she wants to walk away with £2.8m.
Sir Andrew - who was treasurer of the Conservative In campaign which sought to keep the UK in the European Union at the 2016 referendum - had made an initial offer of £1m.
That offer had been rejected. Lawyers representing Baroness Hirsch-Stronstorff said that offer would leave her with about £500, 000, because of tax implications.
On Wednesday, the judge was told Sir Andrew had made a second offer which he said would leave Baroness Hirsch-Stronstorff with £2m.
Sir Andrew's lawyers said that offer came with a deadline and it would remain on the table until they began to question Baroness Hirsch-Stronstorff during the trial.
Baroness Hirsch-Stronstorff rejected that offer.
On Thursday, lawyers said Sir Andrew had made a third proposal. He would extend the deadline and leave his £2m offer, under which he would pay tax, on the table until the trial reached the point where the judge was ready to deliver a ruling.
Baroness Hirsch-Stronstorff has not accepted the offer.