Ant McPartlin’s ex-wife Lisa Armstrong has struck up a friendship with a paparazzi photographer, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Ms Armstrong, 43, whose divorce was finalised in April, has become close to Ben Benjilali, who regularly sold pictures of the make-up artist and her ITV star husband following their split in 2018.
Despite her previous animosity towards paparazzi, Ms Armstrong last week posted a picture of herself on Instagram wearing a face mask designed by the 41-year-old photographer, accompanied by two kisses.
Ant McPartlin’s ex-wife Lisa Armstrong (left), 43, whose divorce was finalised in April, has become close to Ben Benjilali (right), who regularly sold pictures of the make-up artist and her ITV star husband following their split in 2018
Last night, Mr Benjilali – who has recently scaled back his work as a photographer to devote more time to his mask art – confirmed that he and Ms Armstrong were pals, but insisted: ‘We are just friends.’ Ms Armstrong declined to comment.
Reflecting on the perhaps unlikely union, a source said: ‘This friendship has certainly raised a few eyebrows in the showbiz world. It wasn’t so long ago that Ben was taking pictures of Lisa and Ant.’
Ms Armstrong has made several legal complaints about the behaviour of the paparazzi in recent years.
Ant and Lisa on their wedding day in Buckinghamshire on July 22, 2016
She once posted her own picture of three photographers sitting outside her West London home with the caption: ‘This is my view. #they sitandwait #whatfor #itssoboring #leavemealone #imsickofmyself.’
On his Instagram account, Mr Benjilali showcases his work, including a snap of Ms Armstrong in January arriving for a meeting with her divorce lawyers, accompanied by the message ‘Sunday’s Sun Exclusive’ and pictures of her smiling and waving at the camera when she arrived in Blackpool for a special edition of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in November.
Mr Benjilali, who has worked as a paparazzi photographer for more than a decade, also describes how he secured exclusive images of Mr McPartlin arriving at Kingston police station in March 2018 after being involved in a car crash. The Britain’s Got Talent presenter later pleaded guilty to drink-driving and stepped back from TV to deal with addiction problems.
The 44-year-old presenter now lives with Anne-Marie Corbett, who was once the couple’s personal assistant. Paying tribute to her in March, Mr McPartlin said: ‘Anne-Marie is the fundamental reason for the great change in my life. She’s been my rock. She’s a beautiful soul. We’re very happy. I’m in the best place I’ve been in my life.’
A decree absolute, ending his 12-year marriage to Ms Armstrong, was granted in April and, following months of wrangling, he agreed a multi-million-pound divorce deal with Ms Armstrong.