Kemal Bokhary

'Secret life' barrister loses tug of love

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 March, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 March, 1997, 12:00am

A senior barrister who led a secret life with his former maid yesterday lost custody of two of his children.

The lawyer's son and daughter will today return to their mother, leaving their father, his Filipino mistress and their two half-siblings.

The children's mother was ecstatic when yesterday's Court of Appeal ruling ended the three-year tug of love.

'Words cannot express my happiness that our children are with their mother,' she said. 'This has been a nightmare.' For seven years the lawyer's wife had no idea that her husband had installed his mistress in a second home, just around the corner.

By the time he admitted the affair with their former maid, the union had produced two illegitimate children.

The Court of Appeal yesterday overturned a Family Court ruling granting the barrister custody of the couple's son and daughter, aged nine and seven.

Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary said the barrister's duplicitous behaviour had in no way influenced the court.

'None of this involves passing judgment on the father's morals,' he said in a written judgment. 'We are not here to judge his morals any more than we are here to judge the mother's morals.

'She, in the unhappiness of a loveless marriage, has strayed to the point of committing adultery in mid 1993.' The wife learned of her husband's double life in 1994. Devastated, she moved out, leaving her son and daughter with their father. He filed for divorce, moving his mistress and their offspring into the family home.

The wife lost custody of her children in May last year, when a Family Court judge concluded that it would be best not to upset them by disturbing the status quo.

But that was a mistake, Mr Justice Henry Litton said. 'The judge failed to recognise the fact that the 'status quo' had existed only a few months,' he said.

He ordered the husband to pay $7,500 maintenance for each of the two children.

The ruling grants him access to his son and daughter on alternate weekends. But his wife said her children have a loving relationship with their father, so she is prepared to be more generous than the ruling demands.

'I'm just so glad it's over,' she said. 'I don't think I could have got through all this if I hadn't had the help and support of my friends.'