As the former head of some of Britain’s biggest companies, the multi-millionaire Alun Cathcart is a man accustomed to getting his own way when it comes to his business affairs.

When he was chairman of Selfridges, he oversaw its 2003 sale for £600 million to Canadian billionaire Galen Weston.

Before becoming the chairman of EMAP media, he spent thirty years as European chief executive at Avis car rental giant.

The 78-year old tycoon retired in 2017 after a difficult time with personal matters.

Last week, it emerged that Cathcart had failed in his High Court bid to strip 66-year-old Pamela Owen of her £1.8 million divorce settlement after a row over embryos created at a fertility clinic while they were still married.

Cathcart claimed he would never have provided such a ‘generous’ settlement had he known of his ex-wife’s secret attempts to use the frozen embryos to create a second child, behind his back, after they had parted.

The case judge said, however that she had not been affected by her actions in determining the final amount of the divorce settlement.

This is a bewildering saga involving three IVF pregnancies — two of which were consented to, one of which Cathcart alleges was not — and ultimately the birth of two children.

Pamela, who resides in Horsham (West Sussex), has been accused by him of falsifying his signature so that she could access embryos for a second child without his knowledge.

And while his ‘wholly misconceived’ case has been thrown out of the High Court’s Family Division, with Mr Justice Mostyn describing it as ‘morally repugnant’, the Mail can reveal a furious Cathcart is now planning to pursue Pamela in the U.S. courts for £250,000.

Multi-millionaire Alun Cathcart failed in his High Court bid to strip ex-wife Pamela Owen (pictured) of her £1.8m divorce settlement after a row over embryos created at a fertility clinic

Multi-millionaire Alun Cathcart failed in his High Court bid to strip ex-wife Pamela Owen (pictured) of her £1.8m divorce settlement after a row over embryos created at a fertility clinic

It was there the pair first attended a Californian fertility clinic in 2000, using donor eggs and Cathcart’s sperm to create several embryos, one of which resulted in the birth of a child in March 2001.

The father-of-5, now living in Portugal is being held responsible for the tortuous actions of the man he is currently suing. These events took place almost 20 years ago, and the undisputed pregnancy ended in miscarriage.

Another thing to consider is the wisdom in digging into the past at court and exposing his intimate secrets, as well as those of his ex wife.

A spokesman for the businessman told me this week: ‘Alun thinks it is wicked, egregious and completely wrong that a man who provides sperm to his wife for a child, then leaves that woman and divorces her, then discovers she used the sperm without his knowledge or consent to try and bring another child into the world.’

But what makes Cathcart’s claim somewhat baffling is the most astonishing twist of all: that more than three years after his split from Pamela, he happily agreed to donate sperm to her — behind his new wife’s back! — so she could conceive a sibling for the first child.

Treble IVF Pregnancies with two children, and secret sperm donations 

PREGNANCY ONEAlun and Pamela got married in August 1997. In 2000, they visited a fertility clinic, using donor eggs and Cathcart’s sperm to create several embryos, one of which resulted in the birth of a child in March 2001. 

They split in March 2002, and they reached an agreement on financial terms in April 2002.

PREGNANCY TWOAlun did not know that Pamela had conceived another child from one of the embryos in 2004. However, she miscarried in July 2005.

PREGNANCY THREE Two months after her miscarriage, in September 2004 Alun agreed to donate sperm to her so that — using donor eggs — she could conceive a sibling for the first child.

He claims he did so as a ‘donor’ and not a ‘husband’ and therefore should not have been financially liable for the child, born in November 2005.

According to the papers filed to High Court, the difference is that he didn’t know that Pamela was secretly trying to conceive with their frozen embryos.

Confused? Confused?

‘We aren’t just talking about the money side of this, although claiming child maintenance is part of it,’ says Hylton-Potts. ‘We’re talking about creating a human being with a father’s sperm when they’ve separated.

‘That’s a key point. She actually got pregnant with Alun’s sperm at a time when he knew nothing about it, even if she miscarried later. He was deeply, deeply hurt by that and still is.’

And, despite admitting that he willingly donated sperm on a second occasion, Cathcart says he did so as a ‘donor’ not as a ‘husband’ — and claims Pamela forged his initials on a 14-page document, making it appear he was the latter so that she could make later financial claims on him.

According to his claim, he only discovered the truth after examining documents provided by the fertility center in June 2013. This is how this terrible situation happened.

Cathcart is a Northern Irish accountant who was previously chief executive at Avis Europe. He met Pamela Owen as a British Airways flight attendant.

Pamela, from Maldon, Essex, was a glamorous blonde divorcee with a £35,000 antique teddy bear collection. She and Cathcart moved in together, married in August 1997 in Bermuda and, after failing to conceive a child naturally, visited the Pacific Fertility Center in Los Angeles, where embryos were created using a donor egg and Cathcart’s sperm.

Three months later, Cathcart left his wife. According to his spokesman: ‘He realised that at that age, he didn’t want to be a father again.

‘He didn’t want to settle down like that. He confesses that he made a horrible mistake. He was consumed by guilt but he realised it just wasn’t the life he wanted.’

The couple divorced and reached a financial settlement in April 2002, which saw Pamela walk away with £1.8 million plus child maintenance payments for their child as well as annual payments of £15,000 towards the upbringing of their first child.

According to the spokesman: ‘Alun took the view that he’d been very generous with Pamela because he had literally left her holding the baby and felt guilty.

‘What Alun didn’t know and didn’t discover until last year is that no sooner than he was out of the door than Pamela double-backed so to speak and began to make plans and active steps to get pregnant using a batch of embryos fertilised from his sperm.’

Pictured: Alun Cathcart with his current Debbie Simmons who was kept in the dark about the legal battle Cathcart was waging against his ex-wife Pamela Owen over her divorce settlement

Pictured is Alun Cathcart (right) with Debbie Simmons (left), who was not informed about Cathcart’s ongoing legal battle against Pamela Owen, his ex-wife.

The High Court documents show that Pamela had a second baby in 2004. However, she miscarried in July 2005.

Cathcart, unaware that his second miscarriage and pregnancy had occurred two months later, agreed to assist his ex-wife in conceiving again.

According to his spokesman: ‘Ms Owen approached him and said: “Look, I would like a sibling for our child. And I would like you to provide sperm.” It was a very unusual situation.

‘She pleaded with him so he agreed for her sake, but only as a donor, not as a husband or partner.’

The sting in the tail was Cathcart’s insistence he wanted nothing to do with the second child and that Pamela should not claim extra child maintenance.

He insisted she provide a £100,000 ‘bond’ to stand as security against any further claims against him.

But why, if he didn’t trust his ex-wife, did Cathcart agree to what was described in court as a ‘morally repugnant’ contract?

According to Hylton-Potts: ‘Alun felt guilty about having left her holding the baby.’

Pamela agreed with his terms. She was then able to have IVF in the same Californian clinic after Alun gave more sperm from London. In November 2005, she gave birth to her second child.

But what of Alun’s poor, long-suffering third wife, glamorous blonde businesswoman Debbie Simmons? She was shocked to discover what her husband was up to.

‘He didn’t tell Debbie at first,’ explains Hylton-Potts. ‘She eventually found out from all the legal documents that were coming in the post and she was not best pleased. It was something she felt intimately and critically important that he kept from her.

‘She thought no worse of him, but she wasn’t happy. She’s long since forgiven him. She loves him to this day and they’re still together.’

So far, so good, but according to legal documents, both children suffered from ‘profound learning difficulties’, something else that Cathcart questions.

Pamela, unable to pay her bills financially, went to court again in 2008 and 2011, seeking additional payments. As a result, the businessman was forced to up his payments to £20,000 for each child, plus the cost of their private school fees.

‘It was something that enraged him,’ says Hylton-Potts. ‘He hated it. He thought it was completely wrong, but the law is the law, you can never exclude the rights of children.’

Amid this toxic atmosphere, Cathcart and his third wife —despite having no relationship with either child — decided that both had a right to know the truth about their parentage and that they had been conceived from donor eggs and Pamela was not their biological mother.

Is this a form of revenge? Not so, says Hylton-Potts, who claims the desire to tell the children had nothing to do with Cathcart’s anger over the payments.

‘Rightly or wrongly, these children are Alun’s,’ he says. ‘He therefore took a view that they should be told about their parentage and how they were created. Ms Owen disagreed.’

Pamela imposed an injunction that prevented the couple from telling the truth or having contact with the children until the age of 18.

Cathcart responded with more action. Pamela, however, preempted Cathcart by informing both of her children about their April 2020 birth.

Cathcart’s next move, just a month later, was to seek proof he was definitely the biological father of the second child. It was the release of documents from the clinic in California in May last year that revealed to him Pamela’s second conception.

Also, he claims fraud related to his third pregnancy. He claimed she forged his initials again to give the appearance that he agreed to donate the sperm as a man to create the impression that if he did, it would make him financially liable.

In his belief that he had the right to seek back some of their divorce settlement, Pamela took him to the High Court to assert that he was a fraud victim and ask for the cancellation of any financial orders.

Mr Justice Mostyn, however, said he was ‘wholly satisfied’ that ‘there was no fraud on any occasion’. He added that ‘even if I am wrong’, Pamela’s divorce settlement would have been unaffected.

Referring to Cathcart’s so-called ‘incredibly generous’ settlement in his final judgment last month, he said: ‘I would not describe it in that way. It looks very conventional to me.’

Describing the fraud allegations as ‘implausible’, he added: ‘This course of conduct by the husband makes his subsequent complaints that the wife kept quiet about an attempt to achieve the very end to which he later agreed extremely difficult to understand.’

He said the allegation of forgery in relation to the birth of the second child was ‘an abuse of the court’s process’ given Cathcart ‘accepts he fully freely entered into’ the conception. Cathcart’s case, he concluded, was ‘totally without merit’. According to Hylton-Potts, Cathcart is ‘bewildered’ by the outcome.

‘The judge took a view that Alun should have stopped this years ago and painted a picture of a bitter tycoon who should really stop it. Alun doesn’t apologize at all for bringing the case before the High Court.

‘He still believes the divorce settlement was obtained by fraud, he still believes that Ms Owen forged his name on documents in California to trick the clinic into reusing his sperm. He knows she forged his signature because he didn’t sign himself.’

Given that most of the ongoings in question are water, what does Cathcart want now?

Tragically, the eldest child died last year in their late teens, but this devastating event appears to have had no impact at all on Cathcart’s determination to pursue Pamela through the courts.

‘He wants money back from Pamela,’ says Hylton-Potts. ‘He believes it is wholly wrong for Ms Owen to keep the money she has had over the years.

‘He’s a wealthy man so he’ll probably give it to charity. It’s a symbolic gesture. He feels a wrong has been done and must be righted.’

Cathcart has now hired a team of fertility lawyers in California with a view to launching a civil claim at the Los Angeles Superior Court for the ‘unauthorised and fraudulent use of embryos’ created using his sperm.

A legal letter seen by this newspaper accuses Pamela of forging Cathcart’s signature on medical consent forms.

A spokesperson for Pamela’s solicitor said she did not wish to comment.

Twenty-two years later, with no sign of an end to the legal fight, hell seems like it has never ceased for multi-millionaire businessman who thinks he is being scorned because he was married.