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Michelin star winner Kevin Viner

A husband jilted for one of Britain's most acclaimed chefs told yesterday how his wife's affair had left his life in ruins.

Gulf War veteran Roger Starling, 59, said his wife Jill was seduced by the celebrity lifestyle of Michelin star winner Kevin Viner.

In six months Mr Starling, a former RAF officer, has watched his marriage fall apart, has attempted suicide and was even arrested when he tried to confront the lovers about their relationship.

He said: 'That man has ruined my life. My wife's only fallen for him because she's dazzled by fame. Jill was the best wife a man could have and now Kevin Viner's finding that out.

'But he'll also find out she's a gold-digger. He hobnobs with Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver, he's very wealthy and very much the local celebrity.

'He is rich and she can spend all her time at cordon bleu competitions playing Debbie McGee to his Paul Daniels.'

Mr Starling, a former Nimrod engineer with two grown-up children from a previous marriage, became suspicious after his wife, 47, started work as a waitress at the 50-year-old chef's upmarket restaurant Viners in Newquay, Cornwall, last year.

'I loved my wife to bits and that was all I asked in return,' said Mr Starling. 'But she started coming home later and later from her job - instead of clocking off at 11.30pm it would be 12.30 and finally 1.30am.

'I would wait up, the loyal and faithful husband. But when Jill did come back, it was only to say how tired she was and then she would sleep on the sofa. Then one day last December I got a call from the restaurant saying Jill wasn't needed.

'I told her she had the night off - but she still went off to "work". Now I had my suspicions, so I rang the restaurant to say I had an urgent message for Jill. They said she was not at work - and neither was Kevin Viner. By January I was so sure she was having an affair that I said something to my family about it.

'It turned out my children had found text messages from Viner on Jill's phone. They had uncovered the affair in December - but not told me, so as not to ruin Christmas. She moved out the next day.'

The following morning he went to confront Mr Viner at his home in the Cornish village of St Columb Major. 'He wasn't there but his wife Jane answered the door. I told her, "I think we have something in common - your husband is having an affair with my wife".

'She coolly asked who my wife was and when I told her, she replied, "That's strange, I thought he was having an affair with a 22-year-old blonde waitress called Elsie".'

Mr Starling said he was so distraught he tried to kill himself with an overdose of sleeping pills. He lost three stone, began chain-smoking and drinking heavily, and was arrested for drink-driving after trying to confront the couple at 3am.

An off-duty policeman saw his Toyota weaving across a road and clipping hedges, Bodmin magistrates heard last month.

The husband: Roger Starling
He was given a 28-month driving ban and fined �675.

Mr Starling said Mr Viner phoned him the day after the court case and left a message thanking him for 'the good PR' surrounding the hearing.

Mr Viner, twice voted Britain's chef of the year, hit the headlines last month when he put grey squirrel on the menu. He admitted his relationship with Mrs Starling but denied leaving a gloating message for her husband.

He said: 'This thing with Jill has happened and that's life. I'm separated from my wife but we're still in business and we have an understanding. Roger has lost the plot, and there's nothing I can do for him there. It's just that time of life for the guy. I feel sorry for him - he's in pain.'

Mr Viner's wife Jane, 51, refused to speak about the affair, saying only: 'Kevin is a wonderful man and a wonderful father.'

Mrs Starling, who has three children from a previous marriage, was unavailable for comment.


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