A former Watford MP has failed in a bid to keep a family court judge's ruling on a money fight with his ex-wife under wraps.

Judge Anne Hudd has concluded findings she made when considering the dispute between Richard Harrington and estranged wife Jessie should be made public.

The judge, who analysed the dispute at private hearings in the Central Family Court in London, published the ruling on Thursday - along with an explanation of her reasoning.

Mr Harrington had argued the judge's ruling should not be made public.

But the judge said she had made findings about "some aspects" of Mr Harrington's behaviour and said publication was in the public interest.

Mr and Mrs Harrington, who are both in their early 60s, married in 1982 and separated in late 2013.

They argued over assets of about £20 million.

Mr Harrington had said assets should be divided equally, but Mrs Harrington wanted to walk away with a 53 per cent share.

Judge Hudd ruled their fortune should be split 50-50.

She said they had "generated substantial wealth", mostly in property in the UK and abroad.

In the written explanation of her decision, the judge said: "Given the issues that arose within these proceedings and the findings that I made about some aspects of (Mr Harrington's) behaviour and shortcomings in his disclosure, I am satisfied that this is a case in which publication of my judgment would be in the public interest.

"There is a clear public interest in knowing that public figures are subject to the same treatment as other citizens - and although he is no longer in public office he was at the relevant time of my decision and throughout the substantive financial remedy proceedings."

Mrs Harrington had called for publication and said "transparency" was in the public interest given Mr Harrington was a "public figure".

She said it was in the public interest for justice to be seen to be done for a former elected politician, and "given the way" Mr Harrington had "conducted his interests" the judge's findings were of "legitimate public interest".

Harrow Times:

Mr Harrington, who was a property developer before he became an MP, had said the "starting point" in "financial remedy proceedings" was the contents of a judgment would usually be private because people involved had an "onerous and extensive duty" to provide "full and frank disclosure" of financial information.

He said there was "no sufficient public interest" to displace his "expectation of privacy", and that there was "no general debate of public interest" relating to his time as an MP.

Watford's MP for nine years added: "It is deeply regrettable that this judgement in private family proceedings, has been made public..."

In a statement after the judgment was published, Mr Harrington said: "From the start of the divorce proceedings, which began after a separation of many years, I believed it right that our assets should be split 50-50.

"This was what I offered at the outset. After two years of considerable and unnecessary expense, this was exactly what the judge ruled.

"Contrary to claims made, all my disclosures to the court were full and frank to the very best of my knowledge.

"I now look forward to moving on with my life. I hope the rest of my family will also be allowed to do so without further disruption to their privacy."

News of the dispute emerged early this year.

The judge ruled journalists could reveal Mr and Mrs Harrington were fighting over money but, at that stage, she said no detail could be revealed.

Mr Harrington became MP for Watford in 2010 and stood down in late 2019.

He had been a critic of the Brexit strategies of both Boris Johnson and Theresa May.

The Conservatives retained control of Watford with his seat being succeeded by Dean Russell, who is the town's current MP.

Judge Hudd said she thought Mr Harrington had been "evasive" when answering some questions.

He had been asked how an extension of the Metropolitan underground line would affect land in which he had an interest.

The judge said he had conceded that the value of the investment would be "likely to benefit" only after a question was asked for a third time.

Mr Harrington, an MP when a trial took place last year, had conceded that he was "likely" to need to have a conversation with the registrar about the Register of Members' Interests.

The judge said that might have accounted for his "hesitation".