Woman who left Stamford Hill suffered 'campaign of harassment', court says

Judge awards Miriam Kliers £290,000 share of her former home


The ex-husband of a woman who left her Strictly Orthodox community has been ordered to pay her £290,000 after a protracted dispute over their house in Stamford Hill.

The High Court said that Miriam Kliers, as well as her fiancé, had suffered “considerable and quite unacceptable abuse” from the Chasidic community, leading them to leave London and move to York.

She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2018 as a result of the “campaign of harassment” against her, her estrangement from her four children and legal battles with her former husband.

Since their separation, the ex-husband, Shlomo Kliers, has received more than a million pounds in loans and donations from the community to support him. 

The couple, who belonged to the Slonim Chasidic community, split in 2012 after 17 years of marriage and although Ms Kliers received a get in 2013, they were not civilly divorced until five years later. During that time, Mr Kliers remarried in a Jewish ceremony.

In 2004, they bought a property in Kyverdale Road which cost £418,000 but is now valued at £1,130,000. But the house was put in the name of Ms Kliers’s brother Mordechai Schmerler to obtain a mortgage and enable the couple to fraudulently claim housing benefits from Hackney Council.

Mr Kliers still lives in the property with his two youngest daughters, his second wife, their baby and her two children from a previous marriage.

Deputy Judge Nicholas Cusworth said Mr Kliers had received around £323,000 through loans from the Charedi children’s charity Ezer Leyoldos to pay back Hackney Council for the housing benefit and to HMRC for overpaid tax credits. He also received other loans and payments from the charity, including to cover the cost of court hearings regarding arrangements for their children.

Contributions from the charity and others in the community to help with the debts and various legal proceedings came to at least £1,055,000 and “very possibly considerably more”, Mr Cusworth said in his ruling.

Although Mr Kliers claimed to be earning little more than £10,000 a year from catering work while his outgoings were £36,000, the judge found “on the balance of probabilities” he generated “more income for himself than that which he readily discloses to HMRC.”

Mr Kliers also claimed his brother-in-law Mr Schmerler was paying the interest on the £300,000 mortgage on the house, but “he knows that to be untrue”, the judge said.

Mr Cusworth said it was clear “very significant resources have been and are continuing to be made available to the husband by his local Chasidic community. It may be that a significant element of this is remuneration for the husband, disguised as charity.”

But it was not clear, he said, “whether the funds previously received have in some part been earned by him specifically, but not declared for tax avoidance reasons, or alternatively simply provided as genuine charity.”

Assessing Ms Kliers’s stake in the house, the judge directed her ex-husband to give her £290,000, while his was valued at £512,000. Out of that he owed at least £457,500 to Ezer Yeyoldos, including for the costs of the latest court case.

Irving Lichtman, managing director of Ezer Leyoldos, told the court there was no expectation any of the loan would be called back within six to eight years.

If the house had to be sold, the judge said, Mr Kliers might also get further help from the community.

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