Father-in-law targets Ramsay empire

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By SAM GREENHILL

London - Gordon Ramsay’s father-in-law reignited their bitter war on Wednesday by demanding the High Court shut down the chef’s global empire.

Christopher Hutcheson lodged a petition to “wind up” Gordon Ramsay Holdings, which owns all his restaurants and media ventures.

Hutcheson claimed he was taking the drastic action in pursuit of a “significant unpaid debt” – understood to be £2-million Ramsay offered to pay him in February to settle the vicious feud ripping the company and family apart.

He also alleged he was acting because the TV chef was facing a “tax investigation” by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – a claim which Ramsay’s camp believe is designed to smear him.

Ramsay is understood to be confident the court will dismiss all Hutcheson’s demands, if it even reaches the stage of a hearing.

The once-close pair fell out in 2010 and hostilities have grown increasingly severe. Ramsay, 46, accused Hutcheson – the father of his wife Tana and former chief executive of the Ramsay empire – of hacking into private emails and plundering £1.4-million to finance his womanising.

Hutcheson, who denied the claims, branded Ramsay a fame-obsessed “monster” and sued him for unfair dismissal and unpaid wages.

Ramsay’s wife, 38, sided with her husband and severed ties with her parents after discovering her philandering father had kept a second family secret from her for 30 years.

In February this year, a truce was called and both sides withdrew civil litigation. Ramsay is believed to have agreed to pay £2-million to Hutcheson, which included a payment for a 30 percent shareholding in Gordon Ramsay Holdings.

But on Wednesday full hostilities were resumed as Hutcheson accused Ramsay – whose annual income was recently estimated at £24-million – of failing to pay up. The High Court in London confirmed a “petition to wind up” Gordon Ramsay Holdings had been lodged by Hutcheson. A hearing at the Companies Court has been scheduled for January 21.

Presenting a winding-up petition to the court is the most serious debt recovery action that can be taken by someone claiming to be a creditor.

Hutcheson will be required to demonstrate he has an unpaid debt that is not in dispute, something Ramsay’s camp suggest he will be unable to do.

Technically, if a judge sided with Hutcheson, the court has the power to order the compulsory liquidation of the Ramsay empire, which includes 24 restaurants around the world. However, it is more likely the matter will be resolved before that stage.

On Wednesday Hutcheson’s solicitor, Ryan Carthew, said: “I can confirm that a statutory demand has been filed with respect to Mr Ramsay and a winding up petition against Gordon Ramsay Holdings in relation to a significant debt which is now due to our client Mr Hutcheson.”

A source close to Ramsay confirmed there was a tax investigation, but suggested it related to the time when Hutcheson was chief executive of the company.

A spokesman for the chef said the winding up petition had been published “maliciously” adding: “There are valid reasons why the purported debt has not been paid which has nothing to do with GRH’s solvency or ability to pay.” - Daily Mail

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