December 05, 2001 01:20 PM

British actress-model Elizabeth Hurley is reportedly less than bedazzled with a claim by her millionaire former lover, made to the press, that he might not be the father of her unborn baby. “I’m deeply distraught by Stephen Bing publicly declaring that he hadn’t been in an ‘exclusive relationship’ with me,” Hurley, 36, said in a statement issued by Simian Films, the London-based production company she co-owns with another former squeeze, Hugh Grant. (They were together 13 years. The relationship, which endured his high-profile brush with a Hollywood prostitute, ended in May 2000.) “This is the first I had heard of this, and the implications are very painful, especially as I am shortly to give birth to his child.” Through his publicist in Los Angeles, Bing, a real-estate scion whose family is said to be worth between $400 million and $3.5 billion, on Monday said: “Ms. Hurley and I were not in an exclusive relationship when she became pregnant. It is her choice to be a single mother . . . If indeed I am the father, I will be an extremely involved and responsible parent.” Legally, in California (where Bing resides), he could be forced to turn over more than a quarter of his annual income if his paternity is proven. In her statement, Hurley said that in her 18 months with Bing, “I was completely loyal and faithful to Stephen throughout this time as, indeed, he assured me he was to me.”

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