Page last updated at 17:43 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

Formula 1 boss faces divorce case

File picture of Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone
Mr Ecclestone's personal fortune is estimated as being in excess of 2bn

The wife of Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has filed for divorce, it has been confirmed.

A spokeswoman for Slavica Ecclestone said the announcement had been prompted by media speculation.

This year's Sunday Times Rich List estimated her husband's personal fortune to be in excess of 2bn.

Mrs Ecclestone will be represented by divorce lawyer Liz Vernon, who represented the wife of Arsenal and England footballer Ray Parlour in 2004.

She secured a deal which gave her client a third of her ex-husband's future earnings for four years.

Simon Bethel, a family law specialist with law firm Mills & Reeve, said: "Given Mr and Mrs Ecclestone were reputed to be worth 2.4bn in the 2008 Rich List, this case may see the highest award to a wife in legal history."

He added that if Mrs Ecclestone filed for divorce in the UK, she could be awarded as much as half of her husband's fortune.

He said: "If Mrs Ecclestone is keen to push for a substantial award, and on the face of it there is no reason why she should not, she could maybe end up with a third or a half of his fortune."

The couple, who married in 1985, have two daughters, Petra, 19, and Tamara, 24.

Mr Ecclestone, 77, has a stake in Alpha Prema, which owns Formula One.

Last year he diversified when he took over Championship football club Queens Park Rangers with Renault team boss Flavio Briatore.

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