Sitting in the back of a Rolls-Royce, multi-millionaire James Stunt appears relaxed in the company of a middle-aged man.
But the formally dressed man sitting next to Bernie Ecclestone’s former son-in-law is no respectable professional.
He is Terry Adams, the ‘Godfather’ of Britain’s most notorious crime family which has been linked to 25 murders, money laundering, racketeering and extortion. He is also Mr Stunt’s godfather.
A chat with his godfather: Gold bullion dealer James Stunt and Terry Adams in the back of Mr Stunt’s Rolls-Royce in June
Adams contacted former Formula One boss Mr Ecclestone, 87, and offered to help negotiate financial and other matters relating to his daughter Petra’s split from gold bullion trader Mr Stunt.
Heiress Petra, 28, was granted a divorce last month after the collapse of her six-year marriage to Mr Stunt, 35, with whom she has three children.
Full details of Mr Stunt’s close friendship with Adams and the gangster’s extraordinary intervention in the divorce battle could not be reported until this week for legal reasons.
Bitter divorce: Petra and Mr Stunt
Mr Ecclestone, whose 40-year reign as head of Formula One ended in January, confirmed that he was contacted by Terry Adams in relation to his daughter’s divorce proceedings.
The billionaire said the ex-crime baron had offered to give him advice, which he thought would be ‘useful’ to him in his dealings with Mr Stunt. Mr Ecclestone said: ‘He called me to say he wanted to advise me. I never gave him the opportunity because I was not interested.
‘I had one of the sinking feelings … (that it) probably wasn’t going to be anything that was helpful to myself, so I stopped the conversation.’
He added: ‘I said, “I have managed to get this far in life without too much advice”. I thanked him very much for trying to help James.’ Asked whether he knew of Adams’s notoriety, he said: ‘I think anyone who has lived in London for a few years would know of his family.’
In a statement, Mr Stunt’s spokesman said: ‘Terry Adams is one of James’s godparents. James is very grateful for the emotional support he has always given him.’
Mr Stunt and Adams, 62, do not hide their friendship.
The pair were pictured in the back of Mr Stunt’s Rolls-Royce in June, around the time his divorce battle with Miss Ecclestone became extremely bitter.
Mr Stunt and Adams have also been spotted together at a top West End restaurant, which has a private dining area for VIPs.
Last month Miss Ecclestone was granted a divorce after she and Mr Stunt ended a bitter legal fight over their £5.5 billion fortune. Lawyers revealed a settlement had been reached as the couple were due to begin a two-day battle at the Central Family Court in London. The couple’s assets included a £100 million Chelsea mansion and a £158million home in Los Angeles. No details of the settlement were revealed.
The couple met in 2006 and married in 2011 in a £12million ceremony in Rome. But in June they began their court battle which saw Mr Stunt evicted from the Chelsea property.
During a bad-tempered hearing, details of their marriage were laid bare, including hotly disputed allegations that he was abusive, violent and took overdoses.
Rolls: Mr Stunt was pictured smoking in the car
In the summer, Mr Stunt posted a video on YouTube addressing Mr Ecclestone’s claim that he compared himself to American Mafia boss John Gotti, known as the ‘Dapper Don’.
Wearing a towelling robe in his room at a hotel in Knightsbridge, where he took refuge after a judge ordered him to leave the family home, he said: ‘I wish I could be as cool as John Gotti. I’m sadly not. I am not a gangster. I am nowhere near clever enough or cool enough to be one of those guys. Do I know any figures in organised crime? Alleged ones, yes.’
Terry Adams was jailed for seven years for money-laundering in 2007 after a decade-long police investigation costing taxpayers £50million. In August, his brother Tommy, 59, was jailed for seven years after police smashed his money laundering network. Another brother Patrick, known as Patsy, 61, is serving a nine-year jail term after shooting an associate.