General News

Porn baron left penniless after legal dispute with dominatrix

Judge says case involving kinky businessman and his ex-girlfriend perhaps shows it is unwise to mix business with pleasure.

Published Mon 4th Apr 2016
By itsAdult / General News

Porn baron left penniless after legal dispute with dominatrix

A kinky businessman who ran a porn empire with his dominatrix girlfriend from their genteel village home has been left almost penniless after a bitter break-up.

 

English Mansion boss

 

Steve Dawson, 47, was originally a client of Laura Bell, also 47, but a relationship soon blossomed out of domination sessions at her then home in east London.

They went into business, with her starring in "femdom" movies, filmed at the £850,000 village home they bought in Gloucestershire and streamed to fans online.

But the romance turned sour and, as they tried to split their assets, a row erupted over who owned the company behind their femdom site, The English Mansion.

Mr Dawson accused his ex of bullying and intimidating him - "twisting his arm at every turn" - until he had signed over his shares to her in 2009.

Despite accepting £47,500 from her for his part of the business, he sued her, demanding return of his shares and a directorship in the company.

At the High Court in 2014, Judge Anthony Havelock-Allen highlighted the bizarre aspect of the case - a man who liked to be dominated had accused his partner of bullying.

He said: "Assessing the credibility of a claimant who has a fetish for female domination and claims to have been the victim of duress and intimidation by his female partner is not easy.

"Assessing the credibility of a defendant who denies threatening behaviour, but who has made a career as a dominatrix and appearances in femdom videos is not easy either."

The judge ruled in her favour, meaning Miss Bell kept the company, but Mr Dawson took the case to the Court of Appeal, where three judges have now confirmed the ruling.

Lord Justice Longmore dismissed Mr Dawson's appeal, but said the marathon legal battle had been "disastrous" for all concerned, with Miss Bell also put to "grief, annoyance and trouble".

The court heard that the pair first met in 2002 after Mr Dawson saw Miss Bell's videos and arranged sessions at her home in Masters Lodge, Tower Hamlets.

Soon they were a couple and, in 2004, set up Adwelsh Media Ltd to make and distribute female domination porn movies, with Miss Bell starring in many.

She had a 51 per cent stake, with Mr Dawson owning the rest, and the company was an "almost immediate" success, said Judge Havelock-Allan.

t allowed Mr Dawson to give up his £60,000-a-year sales job and work fulltime for the company.

In 2006, they paid £850,000 for a lavish property to use as their headquarters in quaint Little Sodbury village, near Bristol, in South Glos.

However, the relationship cooled off and in December 2007 ended completely, with Mr Dawson moving into another flat of theirs in Bristol.

The break-up was initially amicable, but as their assets began to be split up a dispute arose over the company, which the judge said was worth about £500,000.

Mr Dawson claimed that, when he had earlier agreed to sell his part of the company to Miss Bell, he had done so under pressure from her.

At the High Court in Bristol, Judge Havelock-Allan rejected his claim of "duress" and said neither party was "wholly believable".

Mr Dawson's evidence had painted him as the "victim of a bullying and aggressive partner who twisted his arm at every turn to get her way", he said.

But, on the contrary, the businessman had been just as manipulative as he had accused Miss Bell of being.

She had been "a quietly spoken and almost diminutive figure" in the witness box, but that too did not reveal her full character, said the judge.

"I am certain that, beneath the relatively composed exterior which she presented in court, she is a tough individual," he said.

"I doubt it is possible to make a career in the adult entertainment industry without having that attribute."

Rejecting Mr Dawson's duress claim, he said: "There is an old adage that it is unwise to mix business with pleasure. This case is perhaps a paradigm example."

At the Court of Appeal, Mr Dawson's barrister Seb Oram argued that Judge Havelock-Allan had been wrong to reject his claim of duress.

He had been subjected to numerous "threats" from his ex to sell his shares - including that he might be thrown out of their Bristol flat.

She told him that, if he did not sell, she would use her majority shareholding to vote him off the board and use a clause in the shareholders' agreement to take his stake anyway, he said.

"It dawned on Mr Dawson that there was this clause which meant he was over a barrel - he was bound to lose his directorship and therefore his shares," said Mr Oram.

"He discovered the writing was on the wall in so far as those shares could be taken away from him and he could be removed as a director."

Lord Justice Longmore, sitting with Lord Justice Tomlinson and Lord Justice Sales, rejected Mr Dawson's appeal, but said he would give his reasons at a later date.

Miss Bell's barrister, Matthew Mason, criticised the appeal as "hopeless" from the start.

Mr Dawson, he said, had been left with "absolutely no money" and would have no way of paying Miss Bell's legal costs.

He added: "Miss Bell is now heavily in debt and has been vexed to no end.

"Mr Dawson has sought to cause as much grief, upset and costs to her as possible, as is evident from his conduct."

Source: www.Telegraph.co.uk

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