Page last updated at 19:54 GMT, Friday, 5 June 2009 20:54 UK

'Wedding' was not legal marriage

Wedding ring
The couple exchanged rings before a minister, the judge said.

A High Court judge in London has ruled that a "wedding" in South Africa - complete with priest, trousseau and reception - was not a legal marriage.

The decision means the "bride" cannot seek a settlement or file for divorce.

Gillian Hudson, 43, and Robert Leigh, 49, enjoyed a "splendid and romantic" ceremony, said Mr Justice Bodey, after viewing a DVD of the occasion.

But the couple and the priest agreed beforehand to word it so it did not comply with marital laws, he said.

Rooftop setting

Mr Leigh, the father of Miss Hudson's four-year-old daughter, had promised there would be a legal, civil marriage when they returned to their homes in London.

However they split up before a ceremony could take place.

Mr Justice Bodey said: "It was a fabulous rooftop setting overlooking a sunlit sea.

"The bride was in full wedding trousseau and all the guests were dressed up to the nines."

He said both were asked by the priest whether they took each other as husband and wife, and they replied 'yes'.

"Rings were exchanged with the words 'I give you this ring as a sign of our marriage' and after the ceremony were referred to as Mr and Mrs Leigh," the judge added.

But the couple and the priest had agreed to leave out the words about whether there was any just impediment.

There was also no reference to "lawful wife" or "lawful husband" and no declaration that they were lawfully married, said the judge.

He said that meant that no marriage ceremony had taken place and that Miss Hudson would not be able to claim financial relief from Mr Leigh, other than maintenance for their daughter.

The pair now live at separate addresses in Richmond-upon-Thames, south west London.

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