A Tory MP has claimed he is too poor to keep up support payments to his ex-wife and children – because he is forced to fork out for wreaths on Remembrance Sunday.
Andrew Bridgen, 52, MP for North West Leicestershire, made the extraordinary claim as he petitioned a court to stop £1,100-per-month payments to ex Jacqueline and their two children.
He told Nottingham crown court that the divorce battle has left him virtually bankrupt, made worse by expenses as an MP that he cannot recover.
Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, complained to a court about the amount he is forced to spend on Remembrance Sunday wreaths as he fought with ex-wife Jacqueline (right) over support payments in court
Mr Bridgen, who married 38-year-old Serbian soprano singer Nevena Pavlovic in April, said the divorce has nearly bankrupted him and he is unable to keep up payments of £1,100 a month
Mr Bridgen said, according to the Daily Mirror: ‘On Remembrance Sunday I buy five wreaths for the five main services, I will attend three and I will read the names at all of them.
‘It is now de rigeur that MPs can’t put in claims for wreaths or travel. £175 on wreaths it will cost me, £200 [including travel] to be the MP of North West Leicestershire on that Remembrance Sunday.’
But Jacqueline told the judge that her income amounts to £8,000 per month, a tenth of her ex-husband’s, and she ‘wouldn’t know how to manage’ without his payments.
She accused him of throwing away money on a rented property that he cannot afford, and of lavishing gifts on his new wife Nevena Pavlovic.
Jacqueline accused Mr Bridgen of lavishing his new wife (left and right) with gifts including a £3,000 wedding ring, and of spending thousands on trips to Serbia to visit her
Mr Bridgen (pictured during Remembrance Day duties) had his appeal to cut payments rejected, though he was told he will not have to pay £7,000 in missed fees
The 38-year-old Serbian is a soprano opera singer who is originally from Belgrade but now lives in London.
Jacqueline claims Mr Bridgen spent £3,000 ring for Nevena, transferred £2,500 to her account and spent thousands visiting her in Serbia.
Rejecting Mr Bridgen’s appeal, District Judge Richard MacMillan told him ‘you chose to go into politics’.
Mr MacMillan did rule that £7,673 of missed payments did not have to be handed over after the court heard Jacqueline is now living with a Mr Gittins at an address in Packington, meaning her circumstances had changed.
Mr Bridgen married his first wife in 2000 but the pair split in fraught circumstances around five years ago. He married his second wife in April this year.