Matthew Freud and Elisabeth Murdoch to divorce

Media power couple, estimated to be worth £250m, to split after years of alleged tension between PR guru and Rupert Murdoch

Public relations guru Matthew Freud and Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of Rupert Murdoch, are set to divorce after 13 years of marriage.

Murdoch, 46, and Freud, 50, are expected to be granted a decree nisi this week.

The couple, who have two children aged 13 and 7, are worth an estimated £250m between them.

Although their separation has been the subject of speculation for some time, the divorce comes after a year of alleged tension between Freud and Rupert Murdoch over the former’s friendship with Tony Blair, the ex-prime minister who allegedly met the 83-year old’s wife, Wendy Deng, several times without his knowledge.

Rupert Murdoch divorced Deng, 45, last year, while friends of Blair have always said the relationship was platonic.

The growing tension between the two men reportedly saw Murdoch banned from Freud’s 50th birthday party last year, where Blair and his wife were guests.

In December Freud said: “I will be eternally grateful to Rupert Murdoch for producing Elisabeth, who is practically perfect in every way. Our views differ quite dramatically on a number of subjects professionally and I regret that this has caused my relationship with him to be sometimes conflicted. But we have had good times as well as bad times, we both love his daughter and his grandchildren, if not always each other. I do not believe anything else is terribly important”.

Freud and Elisabeth Murdoch met in 1997 and married at Blenheim Palace in 2001. The family home is at Burford Priory in Oxfordshire. The couple have not made any public comment about the separation.

Freud’s sister, radio presenter Emma Freud, retweeted a message from former Sun editor David Yelland: “Very sorry to read about the Matthew Freud-Elisabeth Murdoch split but what I do know is they’re both great parents.”

The couple’s combined wealth is £250m, according to the latest Sunday Times Rich List.

Elisabeth Murdoch founded Shine Group in 2001, producers of shows including Masterchef and The Tudors, which she sold to her father’s 21st Century Fox for £415m in 2011. She

received £129m and the sale, which provoked criticism from shareholders who accused Rupert of treating the company “like a wholly owned family candy store”.

Last week it was announced that Elisabeth Murdoch was preparing to stand down from Shine after 21st Century Fox said it would merge it with companies including Endemol, the producer of shows including Big Brother and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

Freud, founder of Freud Communications, made £8.4m from his PR agency last year.

Freud Communications has clients including Pepsi, the Department of Health and the US film studios Universal, Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox.


Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

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