A family judge has criticised a man who cheated on his wife for contesting a divorce in an 'awful case' in which his cross-examination of the couple's daughter was described as 'particularly excruciating'.

Her Honour Judge Lynn Roberts said the case, VW v BH, was 'extraordinary'. Firstly, it was a three-day contested trial, one of around only 20 contested divorce trials a year. Secondly, BH contested the divorce despite admitting that he committed adultery over 22 years of their marriage.

The judgment states that the trial was meant to start on 5 September but adjourned because BH was reportedly attacked the night before. Roberts said she was 'not satisfied that Mr H had been attacked as he said. I do not know'.

HHJ Roberts said BH required all of his wife's witnesses to attend 'and, if I had not intervened, would have questioned each of them for very long periods of time... It was a difficult and painful experience, in my judgment, for each of Ms W's witnesses and for Ms W to observe. His cross-examination of his daughter, M, was particularly excruciating'. Later, Roberts says 'unfortunately and wholly unnecessarily' BH asked his daughter questions about herpes.

HHJ Roberts said BH emerged from all of the cross-examination as a 'deeply dishonest man'. She said: 'I do not believe him about any of the matters in issue in this case. His attitudes displayed in these proceedings are those which were common 40 years ago, not today.' Roberts said she could only conclude that 'this whole awful case has been so that he can delude people into thinking his conduct was not as shameful as it indeed is'.

The judge added: 'Mr H's whole case has indeed been completely futile, a huge waste of money, a tragic destruction of family relationships, and all, in my opinion, to satisfy Mr H's own vanity and need to be in control and for the other reasons I have suggested earlier. All he had to do was to not contest the divorce, a divorce he wanted, as virtually everybody else in the country does, and this couple would have had their decree nisi last year, the various relationships would, in all likelihood, have been well on the way to healing by now and the money saved for the family.'

VW was granted a decree nisi.

BH was ordered to pay VW's costs of prosecuting her petition and defending his. The judge said it should be done on an indemnity basis 'because of the totally unnecessary proceedings that have taken place, a huge amount of costs which have been made much more expensive than they needed to because of decisions taken by Mr H'.

The judgment is published at a time when family law group Resolution, which has 6,500 members, is trying to raise awareness of how parents can minimise the impact of conflict on their children as part of a 'Good Divorce Week' campaign.