Former Pakistan cricket captain IMRAN KHAN's absence at his wife JEMIMA's 30th birthday party shocked British society on Saturday night (31JAN04).

Jemima ditched her usual traditional Islamic dress to wear a shimmering skimpy bronze outfit to the bash at London club ANNABEL'S, where she partied with Elle Macpherson, Hugh Grant, Gillian Anderson, Laura Bailey, Jools Holland and STEVE COOGAN.

The main topic of conversation during the night was why Jemima's husband of nine years was absent from the party and the state of their marriage.

Family members claim 51-year-old Imran was unavoidably detained in Pakistan on political business.

One reveller says, "I was expecting Imran to attend this but there was an important political vote or something and he couldn't make it in time."

Last month (JAN04) Jemima placed an advertisment in national newspapers in Pakistan denying her marriage was on the rocks.

The ad read: "Whilst it is true that I am currently studying for a Masters degree at THE SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES in London, it is certainly not true to say that Imran and I are having difficulties in our marriage.

"This is a temporary arrangement and Inshallah (God willing) I will be moving back to Pakistan once my studies are finished and once the building of our farmhouse outside Islamabad is complete."

02/02/2004 13:31