He’s the Old Etonian fraudster who tried to drag Boris Johnson into a notorious plot to give ‘a couple of black eyes and a cracked rib’ to an impertinent journalist – and once beat up Princess Diana’s brother.
Now Darius Guppy has been accused of ‘physically and verbally abusing’ his wife.
The society conman is the subject of sensational divorce proceedings in South Africa, where estranged wife Patricia has filed court papers claiming the abuse occurred ‘over many years’.
A summons lodged at the High Court in Cape Town, where they have lived since the early 2000s, alleges the PM’s 57-year-old school chum has become ‘volatile and erratic’ and ‘controlling’.
‘The Defendant [Guppy] has both physically and verbally abused Plaintiff [Patricia] over many years to the point where the Plaintiff can no longer continue the marital relationship,’ it reads.
Old Etonian fraudster Darius Guppy has been accused of ‘physically and verbally abusing’ his wife Patricia (pictured together in 2019), ‘over many years’
The court claim further alleges: ‘There is no meaningful communication between the parties… The parties no longer have any love and affection for each other.’
Patricia, a 54-year-old coal-miner’s daughter and one-time model from Sunderland, moved out of the rambling mansion where they raised their three now grown-up children last month ‘for her own safety’, according to friends.
She is now requesting maintenance of 200,000 rand [£10,000] a month, to increase by the rate of inflation every year until she either dies or remarries.
Meanwhile, the couple’s six-bedroom home, which boasts a swimming pool and views of Table Mountain, is on the market for 30million rand [£1.5million].
Its manicured lawns were the scene of an extraordinary 2006 punch-up between Guppy and Earl Spencer, with whom he and Boris attended Eton and Oxford.
The aristocrat was left with two black eyes, a broken cheekbone and concussion.
Guppy, who married Patricia in 1991, told the Mail: ‘I am of course very sad that my thirty-year marriage to my beloved wife Patricia may be coming to an end.
‘I would not have married her in the first place had I not held her in the deepest affection and esteem.
‘Whatever the outcome, I wish for it to be amicable and in the best interests of all the parties involved, not least our three fine children.
Darius and Patricia Guppy married in July 1991 (pictured, on their wedding day)
‘For philosophical and religious reasons I believe in the sanctity of the family unit and therefore consider any dissolution of that unit to be a spiritual affront.
‘As for the allegations outlined in the summons, I am long enough in the tooth to understand that processes of this nature involve language – prompted sometimes by lawyers, sometimes by the parties themselves – which can range from inflammatory to untrue.’
His marital rift comes a year after the finalising of Mr Johnson’s own divorce from his wife of 25 years, Marina Wheeler, 56, with whom the PM has four children.
Mrs Guppy told friends she was interested to read Miss Wheeler telling the Mail how her marriage had become ‘impossible’. She went further, saying: ‘Lucky Marina, mine became absolute hell.’
Mrs Guppy had waited until her children had grown up and made their own lives before arranging to make her own exit, the friends said.
It’s not the first time the once-handsome businessman has found himself facing awkward court proceedings.
Patricia Guppy is now requesting maintenance of 200,000 rand [£10,000] a month, to increase by the rate of inflation every year until she either dies or remarries (pictured in 2002)
In 1993, he was jailed for orchestrating a faked jewellery heist in an attempt to defraud Lloyd’s of London of £1.8million while working as a gem dealer.
The extraordinary plot saw an accomplice tie him up with twine in a New York hotel bedroom, before firing several shots into a mattress and fleeing with a stash of precious stones.
The insurer paid up but Guppy’s associate thought he was being short-changed, so turned police informant. The Old Etonian was eventually jailed for three years.
As the scam was unravelling, he became the subject of intense media scrutiny.
One particularly tenacious reporter from the now defunct News of the World named Stuart Collier began investigating claims that Patricia, who Guppy had met at the bar of the Groucho club, had links to the owner of a high-class prostitution service charging clients £1,000-a-night.
Angered, Guppy approached Boris Johnson, who was then a journalist at the Daily Telegraph, to supply him with Mr Collier’s address, saying he wanted to have the tabloid reporter beaten up.
In a tape recording of their discussion, which was later obtained by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, Guppy described himself as a potential ‘psychopath’, saying: ‘This guy has got my blood up and there is nothing I won’t do to get my revenge.’
The future PM asked: ‘Uh, how badly are you going to hurt this guy?’ Guppy responded: ‘He will probably get a couple of black eyes and a cracked rib.’
Mr Johnson agreed to supply Mr Collier’s address. But there is no evidence that Boris, who was a member of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford with Guppy, actually provided him with the details.
Challenged over the episode by BBC interviewer Eddie Mair, Mr Johnson – then Mayor of London – said he had ‘humoured’ Guppy but stressed that ‘absolutely nothing eventuated’.
Boris Johnson (front, centre) was member of Oxford’s Bullingdon Club alongside fraudster Darius Guppy (back, fourth from right)
In 2013, Guppy alleged he had turned up at the reporter’s house, knocked him to the ground and poured manure over his head.
More recently, Guppy was involved in an altercation with Earl Spencer. They were once close associates – during Guppy’s imprisonment, Spencer had generously allowed Patricia to live in a cottage on the Althorp Estate.
However, in 2006, Patricia alleged to her husband that the aristocrat tried to seduce her on several occasions. Although Spencer denied impropriety, Guppy administered a savage beating.
Guppy has devoted recent years to pursuing mysterious business interests in Iran, the homeland of his late mother.
He attends weekly Mass near his home in Cape Town suburb Constantia. According to locals, he even takes a gun to church.
‘You can see the holster sticking out of his jacket,’ a member of the congregation told the Mail, ‘even when he goes up for communion.’