A two-timing millionaire financier has won £120,000 compensation from his ex-partner after she banned him from their £1.6million weekend mansion with the woman she caught him in bed with.
Dr Chris Rowland bought nine-bedroom Tadmarton House near Banbury in Oxfordshire in 2009 and planned to use it as a weekend country retreat with eco-business executive Sharon Blades.
But in November that year, their relationship began to unravel after Ms Blades discovered the former City analyst in bed with another woman.
When she caught him with the love rival a second time at his London penthouse in 2011, Ms Blades issued a ‘veto’ banning Dr Rowlands from visiting Tadmarton House with the second girlfriend, a court heard.
The ban on weekending at Tadmarton House lasted six years from 2009 to 2015, when Dr Rowland then split with the other woman.
Last year, Dr Rowland and Ms Blades fought a court case over ownership of the Grade II-listed country mansion, with a judge ruling that they were equal owners and it must be split between them.
A judge awarded Dr Rowland £59,958 to compensate him for lost time after being banned from the property. However, appealed that sum, asking for the figure to be increased to £216,199.
He has now been awarded £120,000 at the High Court after Judge Milwyn Jarman found that the veto had meant Dr Rowland lost the use of a ‘grand weekend and holiday home’ for those years.
Dr Chris Rowland (left) and business executive Sharon Blades (right) battled in court over the ownership of their £1.6million mansion after he cheated on her with another woman
The court heard Dr Rowland and Ms Blades had been charmed by 24-acre Tadmarton House, which they planned to use as a holiday or weekend bolthole, and where Ms Blades said they even spoke of retiring.
The ‘Italianate villa’ – built in 1830 – is set on a hilltop and has captivating views over the surrounding countryside. Dr Rowland once thought of cultivating elephant grasses in the surrounding fields as a sideline.
But their ‘dream’ hit the rocks when she discovered he was seeing another woman in 2009.
Judge William Hansen, ruling on the ownership dispute in March, said Dr Rowland had carried on seeing both women after Ms Blades discovered his dalliance in late 2009, commenting: ‘He then continued to see both for more than a year but in the early part of 2011, Ms Blades dropped in unexpectedly at his flat and found him in bed with his new partner.
Their relationship began to unravel after Ms Blades, pictured, discovered Dr Rowland in bed with another woman
‘There was an altercation that resulted in Ms Blades accepting a police caution for assaulting the new partner and Dr Rowland accepting a restraining order preventing contact with either woman for weeks.’
In court Dr Rowland, 65, admitted carrying on seeing both women for several months and acknowledged he was ‘not proud of that fact’.
‘But I was emotionally attached to both women and each of them wanted me to choose between them, and I had real trouble making that choice,’ he told the court.
In March, Judge Hansen ruled against Dr Rowland, who had insisted that he exclusively owned Tadmarton House since he paid the full price out of his own pocket.
The judge said he and Ms Blades had taken on the property as joint tenants, although acknowledging: ‘In one sense the outcome is a harsh one for Dr Rowland who contributed the whole of the purchase price in acquiring a country house to be used as a weekend and holiday retreat by a couple who each had their own properties and who never saw fit to pool their resources’.
He judged that the property was owned in equal shares by the couple and ordered that it be sold with the profits split down the middle.
But he went on to award Dr Rowland just over £59,000 for his lost access to Tadmarton House between 2009 and 2015 when Ms Blades barred him from visiting with his new partner.
Dr Rowland said that in 2009 Ms Blades ‘vetoed’ him and his new woman from visiting the country mansion and had even written to him stating: ‘I’d rather you sell it and have nothing than have the risk of her going up there’.
‘It was ‘our’ place and if nothing else I’d like to keep that memory even if I don’t physically have it or am able to be there anymore’.
Last month, Dr Rowland appealed the £59,958 award, asking Judge Milwyn Jarman QC to hike his compensation to what he claimed was the fairer figure of £216,199.
His barrister, Paul Dipre, argued that Dr Rowland was ‘effectively thrown out for the weekends’, and that Judge Hansen had wrongly assessed the loss he suffered.
Dr Rowland bought sprawling nine-bedroom Tadmarton House (pictured) near Banbury in Oxfordshire in March 2009 and planned to use it as a weekend country retreat with his then partner, Ms Blades
But Ms Blades’ lawyers said her ex’s compensation should have been calculated on the basis of his ‘loss of enjoyment’ of the weekend bolthole – rather than on its holiday rental value.
Judge Jarman, allowing Dr Rowland’s appeal, accepted that the loss of enjoyment factor was the primary issue, but decided the £59,000 pay-out was insufficient.
He said Ms Blades had barred the financier from visiting his own home with his new partner, although Ms Blades would have been happy for him to come down on his own.
Explaining the situation, he said: ‘Later in 2009, Dr Rowland formed a relationship with another person. After Ms Blades discovered this she told Dr Rowland that she did not want him to take his new partner to Tadmarton House.
‘Dr Rowland agreed not to do so, and kept to his word. Ms Blades spent most weekends there during this period. In October 2015, Dr Rowland’s new relationship broke down and there was nothing thereafter to stop Dr Rowland also spending time there.
‘The (judge) found however that he chose not to do so. Accordingly, after buying such a grand property, Dr Rowland had the use of it for only a few months.’
The loss he suffered was being cut off from his own weekend and holiday home and should not be totted up in terms of loss of rent, said Judge Jarman.
‘In my judgment, Dr Rowland’s loss is the loss of a grand weekend and holiday home than rather than a holiday let,’ he commented.
‘Many people stay somewhere else during the week for work purposes and return home for the weekend, and this is similar to what the parties intended when buying Tadmarton House.’
He awarded Dr Rowland £120,000 compensation and rejected Ms Blades’ ‘cross-appeal’ which urged that her ex should only have been compensated to the tune of £36,000.