I thought I was feeling pretty comfortable with the differences between the preterite and imperfect but this one has stumbled me.
"He had an English girlfriend" you have translated as Él tuvo una novia inglesa.
But I would see this sentence as: "He used to have an English girlfriend" (Él tenía una novia inglesa) which would require the imperfect, as it is implied that he no longer has this same girlfriend.
Have I missed something or are both acceptable?
You can use both the preterite or the imperfect. Depending on what you want to convey you use one or the other. This comes from a conjugation lesson on tener in the preterite, so there is no context added; here we're just testing on the conjugation of tener in the preterite: tuve, tuviste, tuvo...
If you say "'Tuvo una novia." we see this as something with a beginning and an end. We see it within a time frame and this time frame is finished. If you say "Tenía una novia." we see this more as background information where it is not clear and it's not relevant when this started and finished, it is more descriptive.
Here is a lesson on the general difference between using the imperfect and the preterite.
I hope it helps.
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