She has married four different millionaires and was described by her last husband as a "career divorcee". Yesterday Susan Crossley appealed for more time to put her case for the right to a share of her last husband's £45m declared fortune.
Herself reputed to be worth £18m after her divorces from three previous husbands, Mrs Crossley claimed in court that a pre-nuptial agreement signed by herself and the man she married in January of last year was not valid because he failed to tell her about "tens of millions" of pounds he had in offshore accounts.
The couple had contracted that should they leave the marriage they would not make any financial claims on each other. In a ground-breaking ruling, three court of appeal judges dismissed Mrs Crossley's appeal against an earlier court decision to allocate the case just one day, rather than have the multiple hearings across 18 months that she wanted.
In October a high court judge agreed to cut the usually protracted divorce process to just one day on the grounds that the pair were only married for 14 months, there were no children, both had independent wealth and had signed an agreement forbidding court action over their finances on divorce, but Mrs Crossley appealed.
In the appeal court yesterday, Lord Justice Thorpe said, "This is a quite exceptional case on its facts. If ever there is to be a paradigm case in which the courts will look to the pre-nuptial agreement as not simply one of the peripheral factors of the case but a factor of magnetic importance, then it seems to me that this is such a case."
Mark Harper, Mr Crossley's lawyer, said: "We are delighted with this decision. The court of appeal has shown that when a prenuptial agreement exists the English courts can take a pragmatic approach and short-circuit normal court procedures, saving time, money and emotional distress for all those involved. This will give anyone facing a dubious financial claim on divorce hope that it will be assessed at the earliest opportunity and not involve a lengthy and arduous and expensive court process."
Mr Crossley said after the hearing, "This is a fair decision. I am upset that our marriage failed. Sadly my wife is a career divorcee."
A former model, Mrs Crossley, the mother of three children, was first married at the age of 18 to Kevin Nicholson, whose family founded the Kwik Save chain of supermarkets. The pair met on the Isle of Man, where Mrs Crossley grew up, but they had drifted apart after just 18 months together.
The island, a tax haven, was where Mrs Crossley found another two of her husbands. She went on to marry Peter Lilley, heir to the Lilley and Skinner shoe fortune, when she was 22. They had a daughter together and following a later miscarriage, the couple had an enormous row at a wedding on the island and that evening Mrs Lilley took off in the private jet of race-horse owning Vernon's Pools heir Robert Sangster.
Mrs Lilley filed for a quick divorce and married her new husband, 20 years her senior, in the Isle of Man registry office in 1985. The couple had two boys together but she left him and they were divorced in 2000, with the former Mrs Sangster being awarded £16m by the courts.
Mrs Crossley is the owner of homes in Belgravia's Eaton Square, Barbados - called The Dream - and Ibiza, and is a regular at Ascot. She is known for her luxury lifestyle and has spoken of her fondness for wearing designer clothes and sipping champagne out of Baccarat crystal.
Mrs Sangster was introduced by friends to Stuart Crossley on what they jokingly described as a blind date in June 2005. The two married in Barbados within seven months but were reported to have split up on the grounds of their "incompatibility". Mrs Crossley filed for divorce in August.
In court yesterday Lord Justice Thorpe said: "The marriage was celebrated on January 5 2006 and seems to have brought little or no happiness to either of the parties."
Source: Guardian Online