Judge's heartbreak over wife's affair with golf pal

Last updated at 12:09 20 May 2004

Several weeks ago, Judge Graham Boal hung up his wig and gown in his disrobing room at the Old Bailey and left for the day. He has not been back since, and staff at the Central Criminal Court say they don't know when he will return. These bare facts disguise a heartbreaking story of a man's anguish over the infidelity of his wife.

For I can reveal that Boal, 60 - a witty and clubbable judge, who famously offended gays, lesbians and black people with a joke at a Criminal Bar Association dinner - is now in the depths of despair after his wife of 26 years, Elizabeth, had an affair with a member of his golf club.

The dalliance, with Charles Polito, has been disastrous - both marriages have disintegrated.

Father-of-two Polito - a retired accountant, and a former treasurer of Boal's favourite golf club, the snooty Royal West Norfolk, near King's Lynn - admitted to the affair.

He tells me: 'Everyone's life has been made a misery by all this, and we are all trying very hard to put it behind us.

'I feel a lot of sympathy towards Graham. With hindsight, of course, one wishes it had never taken place.

'The situation is extremely delicate between all parties. But who can say that something like this might not happen in anyone's life. My wife has had a very, very difficult time. Whether or not we get back together is her call.' Judge Boal, who has a son, Thomas, aged 24, was educated at Eastbourne College and King's College, London, and is a popular figure in the judiciary.

As a barrister, he worked with the late George Carman, and was his junior, when he successfully defended former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe, who was accused of plotting to murder gay model Norman Scott.

Boal is described by friends as a bon viveur, with a taste for good claret, and is a snappy dresser. He is a member at the Royal West Norfolk golf club, which lies amid the sand dunes at Brancaster, and whose president is Prince Philip.

A fellow golfer tells me: 'North Norfolk is in uproar over the affair, and the embarrassment caused to the club is considerable.'

He got into trouble in 1999 after cracking his joke about political correctness and promotion within the legal profession. He was, of course, reprimanded by the Lord Chancellor.

While Prince Harry has impressed with his dealings with Aids victims on his gap-year trip to Africa, he has failed to give his alma mater Eton College much to talk about.

After leaving school with just two A-levels, the playboy prince gets just the briefest of mentions in ex-pupils' magazine The Old Etonian Association Review.

A review of the polo season observes that: 'Harry Wales always kept us guessing with his amusing text messages and last-minute arrivals at matches.'

Just what is going on between Princess Anne and her husband, Commodore Tim Laurence?

While tongues were - again - wagging about the state of their 11-year marriage, they were off enjoying a romantic interlude. The couple were sailing around the spectacularly beautiful Mull of Kintyre, off the west coast of Scotland, stopping at various beauty spots. 'The weather was great and they seemed very happy. They could have been on a second honeymoon,' says one local.

The pair enjoyed simple pleasures - like meandering in a light wind to the tiny remote island of Sanda in order to buy eggs.

This expedition was something of a surprise to the island's owner, Dick Gannon, as they stopped off at his pub, the Byron Darnton Tavern.

Dick, 54, says: 'I thought it was an ordinary couple just calling in for a pint. 'But Anne said: "No, we have heard about your super organic eggs." She said she wanted a dozen of them. I told her that she was a dead ringer for Princess Anne and they both burst out laughing. 'The Princess paid with an Irish £10 note and then when I took them into the pub to get some change, the penny dropped and I realised that it actually was Princess Anne.'

Colourful stores tycoon Philip Green likes to demonstrate how deep his pockets are with lavish gestures - such as flying 200 guests to Cyprus for a bacchanalian feast to celebrate his 50th birthday.

So it was intriguing to see Britain's fourth richest man upstaged by a figure who is rarely at his side - his charming wife Tina. Clad in what was said to be 'millions of pounds' of Graf diamonds, South African-born

Mrs Green was with her husband for the extravagant, pink champagne-fuelled relaunch party for society jeweller Asprey. With all those gems she managed to out-glitter the Duchess of York, Zara Phillips, actress Keira Knightley and Sir Elton John - who knows a thing or two about dressing up - combined.

Mrs Green, who is more usually to be found at the couple's tax exile home in Monaco, where she looks after their children Chloe, 13, and Brandon, 12, is pretty keen on grand gestures herself. She once gave her husband a Gulfstream executive jet as a Christmas present.

The Queen has always been something of a mimic - according to Princess Diana she did a wonderful Mrs Thatcher.

Now, I hear, she has been displaying her humour in other ways.

A courtier friend tells me that at Buckingham Palace, Lord St John of Fawsley (former Tory MP Norman St John-Stevas, 75, whose Who's Who entry runs to 5 1/2in), one of the Queen's most devoted subjects, rejoices in the nickname Lord Creepsly On All Foursly.

'Won't Norman be hurt?' I asked. 'On the contrary, HM says he will be thrilled,' I am told.

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