Like a scene from Succession: The moment when an accomplice employed by Jerry Hall, 66, gave Rupert Murdoch, 91, divorce papers before boarding his private jet
His granddaughter’s wedding was an opportunity for Rupert Murdoch to keep his divorce from Jerry Hall in mind.
But the celebrations turned sour for the 91-year-old media mogul after Miss Hall’s divorce attorneys seized the opportunity to get him legal papers.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Mr Murdoch was given the documents ‘shocked’ in the RAF Brize Norton car park in Oxfordshire just before boarding his private plane.
Lurking was private detective Michael Colacicco, a former Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism officer. According to a witness, Mr. Murdoch was surrounded by his security, but “did not respond in time” before Mr. Colacicco handed the paperwork into the mogul’s hands.
“He looked shocked to say the least,” the source said.
The Mail on Sunday may reveal that Mr Murdoch was given the documents ‘shocked’ in the RAF Brize Norton car park in Oxfordshire just before boarding his private plane
The extraordinary scenario could come straight from an episode of the hit television drama Succession, which follows the machinations of an elderly billionaire media mogul and his belligerent family as they fight to take control of the dynasty.
That Miss Hall resorted to such aggressive tactics to initiate divorce proceedings may be an indication of how upset she is by her treatment. Billionaire Murdoch is reported to have ended their six-year marriage in an email to Miss Hall, 66.
Sources said she was “devastated” by the breakdown of the marriage, and that she believes Mr Murdoch soured her during the pandemic as she kept him isolated to prevent him from contracting Covid. It is alleged that this caused tensions with his children, who reportedly “distrusted” her and accused her of refusing to let them see him.
On July 1, the former model filed for divorce in Los Angeles, citing “irreconcilable differences.” They are said to have signed a prenuptial agreement, but Ms Hall’s lawyers claim that she “was unaware of the full nature and extent of all [Murdoch’s] assets and debts, and will amend this petition once information is obtained.”
The day after Miss Hall filed for divorce, Mr Murdoch was photographed mingling with family outside St Mary’s Church in Westwell, Oxfordshire, at the wedding of granddaughter Charlotte and Luke Storey. The following Monday morning, Mr. Murdoch was presented with divorce papers.
Lurking was private detective Michael Colacicco, a former Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism officer. According to a witness, Mr Murdoch was surrounded by his security but “didn’t respond in time” before Mr Colacicco handed the paperwork into the mogul’s hands
Nick Goldstone, chief of dispute resolution at international law firm Ince, said the fact that Mr Murdoch was served in person showed that “the recipient did not expect to be served or that the serving party expected some degree of circumvention.”
He added: “Until the service has been carried out, the proceedings cannot proceed. It can be a tricky exercise, especially when the target is an international traveler and you want to serve them within the jurisdiction. Catching them when they are in situ can be crucial.’
He said the move suggested Miss Hall “wants to move forward with the divorce as soon as possible.”
Mark Stephens CBE, of London-based law firm Howard Kennedy, said it appeared to be a ‘well-done’ service of paperwork, and that serving Mr Murdoch in person was a way to ‘speed things up’.
He added: ‘I suspect he [Murdoch] have given his lawyers the opportunity to accept the service and they have not done so. It might be out of the question to say you can’t get away with this for nothing.’
Mr Stephens said the fact that Miss Hall filed for divorce in California – they were married in London – is significant because it is a community of property meaning any property acquired during the marriage is split 50/50 by default. .
Among the documents that could be made public are financial disclosures Mr. Murdoch made to Miss Hall before their prenuptial agreement.
Mr Stephens added: ‘This is a case that does not need to be litigated. He is rich enough to pay what is asked. The smart thing is you don’t settle the pages of newspapers – just go ahead and settle the matter.’
Murdoch declined to comment, while Miss Hall and her legal team did not respond to questions.