Will Self’s estranged wife, 55, accuses him of demanding access to their marital home after three years apart and ‘put red stickers on everything he owns’ in messy divorce battle

  • Will Self accused by wife of ‘mental cruelty and adultery’ in social media posts
  • Deborah Orr claimed he went through home putting stickers on ‘his’ belongings  
  • He said she was ‘suffering a mental breakdown’, so would not take part in divorce
  • Ms Orr also claims Self guilty of ‘mental cruelty and adultery’ during marriage

He is the writer and broadcaster who once took heroin in the toilet of former prime minister John Major’s campaign plane.

His wife is a serious journalist for left-of-centre publications.

But yesterday the divorce battle between Will Self and Deborah Orr took a rather bizarre turn.

Self faces accusations that he is demanding – through the courts – access to his former home, after three years away from it, to put stickers on ‘his’ belongings.

He has also been hit by claims of ‘mental cruelty and adultery’.

Ms Orr, 55, laid bare their private battle by posting on Twitter that: ‘My ex wants to divide up the contents of the former marital home by coming round, when I’m not there, putting a red dot on absolutely anything he wants, then getting me to organise it all into a place where he can have it picked up. Anyone else had this?’

Will Self with His Wife Deborah Orr at the 1998 Turner Prize at the Tate Gallery in Millbank

Ms Orr took to Twitter to voice her anger at the way her husband was conducting himself during their divorce proceedings  

Ms Orr said Mr Self’s ‘compassionate writings’ on mental illness made her ‘want to throw up’ due to the ‘mental cruelty’ he made her suffer

Her thousands of followers then pitched in with their support, and Ms Orr detailed further unreasonable behaviour by Mr Self, who she claims has compelled her to put their home on the market for around £1.5million.

It also emerged that she had earlier published a letter from Mr Self, 56, to her lawyer in which he claimed Ms Orr was ‘suffering a protracted mental breakdown’, and refused to co-operate with her attempt to divorce him.

Mr Self, renowned for his loquacity on TV panel shows, was last night uncharacteristically lost for words as he declined to make any comment on his spat with Ms Orr.

She, meanwhile, appeared to be revelling in telling all to her Twitter followers. When one said Mr Self should ease the divorce with some ‘co-operation’, Ms Orr openly poked fun at her estranged husband’s notoriety for pretentiousness by replying ‘co-operation is not a word long enough for my ex to have any truck with’.

The pair had lived in their 19th century terrace house, in South London, since buying it for £300,000 in 1997. 

Will Self has been accused by his wife of ‘mental cruelty and adultery’ during their marriage

Their marriage broke down three years ago, and she now feels forced to sell it to halve the proceeds with him. He now rents a nearby former council flat.

As support for her grew online after her initial tweet, she spilled out a long series of further details.

Ms Orr, who said she was ‘scared’ by Mr Self’s behaviour, wrote that her estranged husband claims he ‘can’t remember’ which belongings are his and complained that she spent years acting as his housekeeper.

Writing about her attempts to battle his behaviour she said: ‘I changed the locks and talked to a lawyer a long time back.’ And she suggested she was suffering from complex post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the divorce – meaning she was left distinctly unimpressed by a recent BBC Radio 4 broadcast on mental health made by her ex. 

Ms Orr wrote: ‘I have C-PTSD. I wonder why? His “compassionate writings” on mental illness make me want to throw up.’

And she approvingly retweeted one of her follower’s messages which claimed that when a man calls a woman ‘crazy’ it is almost always because she has raised the man’s failings.

Ms Orr added sarcastically: ‘Yes. We must keep it quiet when men are s***s.’ Referring to her husband’s red stickers she said: ‘This is a fragment of his outrageous behaviour, believe me. 

‘Oh, he has another two-year plan to keep me in misery… I see it all coming but I can never stop it. I’ve given him a list of his things. Simply ignored. They aren’t the things he wants.

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‘Normal life for me. I cope. Which annoys him. I’ve been trying to walk away with nothing but trauma. He wants a big finale though.’

She was happy to split their belongings halfway, she said, but ‘Just don’t think one person should be completely in charge of who gets what 50 per cent!!!’

Ms Orr went on: ‘I changed the locks long ago. He’s been litigating against me for more than two years, and I’m broke. 

He’s put the stickers thing in a court order, to be signed by Tuesday or it’s back to court AGAIN. I can’t afford a restraining order.’

And when one fan asked if Self was ‘the man who reduces lovely bookshop people to tears and makes stupid statements to sell his books’, Ms Orr replied: ‘That guy’. She added sarcastically: ‘He’s totes a feminist’.

Ms Orr said on Twitter her husband had a ‘two-year plan to keep her in misery’ and that the case was going to court 

She also changed the locks and that Mr Self had sought a court order in order to put stickers on ‘his’ belongings 

One supporter wrote of Mr Self’s red stickers on the furniture that ‘He seems to be confusing divorce with Ikea. Tell him there are no meatballs either.’

Mr Self did not rush on to Twitter to defend himself. His literary agent said he would not be making any public comment.

But in the letter from Mr Self to Ms Orr’s lawyer, which his estranged wife has put on Twitter, he wrote that he was refusing to co-operate with her legal team over her demand for a divorce.

In Mr Self’s words, her lawyers had offered him a choice of admitting or contesting either ‘the relatively trivial matter of adultery’, or ‘highly damaging accusations of mental cruelty’.

Mr Self wrote: ‘I am – as you are no doubt aware – a public figure, and this, combined with my estranged wife’s public profile, can be expected – should you and she proceed on the basis of mental cruelty – to result in media attention.

‘I believe this to be damaging to our children, and of no help to Deborah, who I believe to be suffering a mental breakdown.’

Mr Self was sacked by The Observer in 1997 after it emerged he had snorted heroin on John Major’s campaign plane. 

The 6ft 4ins writer has been open about his previous use of drugs and visits to crackhouses.

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