Last updated at 2:57 AM on 6th August 2011
Troubled times: Gordon Ramsay and his wife Tana want millions in compensation from her father
Gordon Ramsay yesterday declared war on his wife’s family by suing her father, mother, sister, brother, brother’s wife — and even her father’s alleged mistress.
All six were named in an explosive writ lodged at the High Court containing a blizzard of claims from the celebrity chef.
Ramsay wants millions in compensation from Chris Hutcheson — father of his wife, Tana, and whom he sacked as chief executive of his restaurant empire — after alleging his one-time mentor:
- Hacked into Ramsay’s personal and company files thousands of times.
- Is a serial womaniser who wrongly withdrew £1.42 million from the company to fund a double life with a secret second ‘wife’ and family.
- Paid his mistress £5,000 a month for doing nothing.
- Put his real wife and son on the company payroll too, and wrote five-figure cheques to himself.
Ramsay also claims that Hutcheson’s married son, Adam, splashed company cash on taking a female ‘friend’ to Australia, and that father and son wiped emails to cover their tracks, before admitting: ‘Guess we have been rumbled.’
The fiery TV cook embarked on the bombshell High Court action after being painted as the villain in the bitter nine-month rift that is tearing apart his family and his business empire.
Now the reasons behind the blood feud are laid bare in 42 pages of accusations against Hutcheson, his wife Greta, his wife Tana’s sister Orlanda Butland, her brother Adam, his wife Adelaide and Hutcheson’s alleged mistress Sara Stewart.
If the allegations are true, it explains why Tana Ramsay — miserable after being disowned by her parents and siblings — chose to back her husband, after learning the devastating truth that her philandering father had concealed from her for more than 30 years that he had a secret second family, complete with two grown-up illegitimate children.
Matters reached boiling point last October when Ramsay, 44, dramatically fired 63-year-old Hutcheson as chief executive of Gordon Ramsay Holdings, after they had run the firm for 12 years as a ‘committee of two’.
The previously close pair went on to trade insults publicly, with Hutcheson branding Ramsay a celebrity-obsessed ‘monster’, and his son-in-law responding with an open letter savaging Hutcheson as ‘a dictator’.
The chef had hired private detectives to investigate Hutcheson, his children’s grandfather, after becoming increasingly concerned about the company’s mounting debts during the global financial crisis.
The High Court writ claims they discovered Hutcheson was taking money to which he was not entitled, and laying a trail of deceit to disguise it. Hutcheson strenuously denies this.
Chris Hutcheson with Gordon Ramsay in happier times
Hutcheson wrote £20,000 cheques to himself and transferred almost a million euros to his French bank account, according to the claims.
After sacking him, and other family members working for the firm, Ramsay brought in a team of ‘Pentagon-style’ specialists to forensically trawl through the records. It has taken months to prepare a legal case.
Meanwhile, Hutcheson desperately fought to keep his double life hidden by obtaining a super-injunction, but this was lifted in May, allowing full details of his extra-marital affairs to be revealed.
However Ramsay himself was also revealed to have concealed from his wife for more than a year that her father had a secret family.
Separately, the Hutchesons are bringing claims they were unfairly dismissed.Yesterday a spokesperson for Gordon and Tana Ramsay said: ‘Clearly, this whole episode has been hugely distressing for Gordon and Tana.
‘All they want is to put the events of last autumn behind them and move on, but given the enormity of what has been uncovered they have no option but to let the legal process take its course.
Chris Hutcheson is accused of paying his mistress £5,000 a month for doing nothing
They are extremely grateful for the support of friends and of the public and are firmly focused on the future.’
Last night, Smeetesh Kakkad, a solicitor representing all the Hutcheson defendants including Orlanda Butland, said: ‘They will be responding through the legal process and have no comment to make at this stage.’
Hutcheson masterminded a massive spying operation on the son-in-law he once regarded as his best friend, it is claimed.
With the help of a computer expert named as Kevin Fung, he allegedly hacked into hundreds of personal and business emails at Gordon Ramsay Holdings.
Ramsay once said he and his father-in-law were ‘as alike as two wings on a plane’.
They played squash and ran marathons together, and were so close that when Ramsay was accused of cheating on Tana, 36, with a long-term mistress, Sarah Symonds, he could count on his father-in-law’s support.
Gordon and Tana Ramsay pictured two days ago leaving the Matsushisa restaurant in Los Angeles
But the scale of the bitter mistrust that mushroomed between them is now plain as Ramsay alleges Hutcheson effectively set up a secret spy ring consisting of family members.
According to the writ, the hacking was conducted from the computers of Hutcheson, his wife Greta, their daughter Orlanda, their son, Adam, and Adam’s wife, Adelaide.
The intruders used stolen passwords to access Ramsay’s files using a computer in the basement of the company’s Westminster headquarters, from where so-called ‘key logger’ software was launched to record passwords as they were being typed.
Among more than 100 emails said to have been accessed were ones with subject headings such as ‘Daily cashflow’, ‘Daily takings’, and ‘Extremely urgent, personal and confidential’.
Another said: ‘Chris Hutcheson financial accounts’ while others included: ‘Sara Stewart: Defence’, ‘Masterchef agreement’, and ‘Hell’s Kitchen Billing Schedule’.
According to a source, the Ramsays were particularly hurt by the suspected spying on their personal lives, including an email detailing their forthcoming skiing holiday.
Ramsay’s PA, Jennifer Aves-Eliott, is also said to have been targeted by snapping 1,868 ‘screenshots’ showing what was on her computer screen.
The writ states the emails ‘are self-evidently private and confidential’.
‘He took £1.4m out of company’
Silver-haired Hutcheson, once the business brains of the Ramsay brand, frequently took five-figure sums from the company’s bank account — and at one point chalked up a staggering £1.42 million in withdrawals, the writ alleges.
He signed cheques to himself, transferred cash to his French bank account and even ‘requested’ his son Adam — whom he had appointed as managing director — to authorise payments, it is said.
Ramsay says that, at the time, the company was in dire financial difficulties, struggling against cash flow problems during the credit crisis.
Chris Hutcheson was fired by Ramsey after working for the chef for 12 years
The chef says he pumped in £4.68 million from his own fortune to prop up the ailing firm, while his father-in-law was taking money out ‘for personal benefit’.
In October 2009, Hutcheson allegedly signed a cheque to himself for £20,000 and, in January 2010, another £10,000 was paid after he sent an email request to his son.
During a year-long period to April 2007, he arranged for almost €1 million (£870,000) to be paid into his French account, according to the claims.
In 2006, the writ says, Hutcheson even had a brand new £21,138 kitchen supplied to his luxury villa near Lyon, in France, and billed it to the company.
When, in June 2010, Hutcheson arranged for £30,000 of his salary to be paid in advance, he wrongly recorded the sum in the ‘other’ column, for miscellaneous spending, rather than the one marked ‘monthly salary’, the writ claims, adding: ‘[Hutcheson] was attempting to disguise a salary advance which he knew would not have been authorised.’
Another time, a £10,000 payment was demanded initially on the basis of a ‘salary advance’ but it later became ‘expenses’, it is alleged.
Hutcheson’s accounting practices included marking just his initials ‘CH’ or even a plain ‘?’ on accounts forms, rather than spelling out what the money was for, says the writ.
The celebrity chef — who has told friends he believes the money was funding Hutcheson’s increasingly tangled private life — says all these payments were unauthorised and illegitimate.
When the duo opened their Petrus restaurant in 2009, the chef claims Hutcheson secretly incorporated the company with himself as the sole legal owner, rather than a 50-50 share.
And then, the firm’s pension fund was allegedly raided to the tune of £500,000 to furnish the restaurant ready for opening.
Hutcheson robustly denies any financial impropriety.
He has admitted to using a company credit card and taking out loans but insists everything was paid back.
He has said previously: ‘It was registered immediately in the directors’ loans account. I haven’t used [the credit card] unethically, without anyone knowing, without accountants knowing and without Gordon knowing.’
He DOUBLED his SON'S salary
THE allegations against Hutcheson’s son Adam mirror many of those levelled against his father, if Ramsay’s claims are true.
Both father and son — sacked as managing director of Ramsay’s empire — are accused of wrongly taking money from the company and mounting an elaborate cover-up.
Gordon Ramsay has also been at the centre of infidelity allegations in the past few years
The married 41-year-old is even said to have taken away a female ‘close friend’ on a luxury ‘recreational trip’ to Australia.
He and the friend — named as Theresa Brattle — flew business class aboard Singapore Airlines to Melbourne for a week’s stay in October 2010, it is claimed.
Ramsay — who reveals he receives a ‘personal allowance of complimentary seats’ from Singapore Airlines — says he allows staff to use them for business purposes.
But Adam Hutcheson’s Melbourne trip was ‘a recreational trip with a friend, rather than one which served any proper or significant purpose’, the writ alleges.
Miss Brattle is a legal PA and works at a London firm of business lawyers.
Last night Miss Brattle confirmed she had been on the Melbourne trip but said she did not know she had been named in the writ.
Last night Miss Brattle confirmed she had been on the Melbourne trip but said she did not know she had been named in the writ.
She said: ‘That’s a bit weird. It was a business trip. It’s completely not true that I had any improper relationship with [Adam]. I really don’t know what to say. I don’t want to say anything.’
Adam Hutcheson is also accused of using £500 in petty cash from the company to visit Ramsay’s swish Maze restaurant in Melbourne during the trip.
Ramsay maintains it was improper for the meal to be claimed on company expenses when it was a personal trip.
Adam Hutcheson was dumped from the firm last November when the furious chef sacked various members of the Hutcheson clan.
Ramsay accuses the Hutchesons of nepotism, and says he was kept completely in the dark about Adam being suddenly promoted from being in charge of ‘pubs logistics’ to being managing director.
Ramsay says he did not find out until at least a month after the appointment.
Chris Hutcheson and his wife Greta have both been accused of hacking into Gordon Ramsey's emails
Chris Hutcheson had awarded his son the senior role in April 2010, despite his ‘lack of qualifications or aptitude’, claims Ramsay.
And when the star discovered the promotion, in June, he also learned Adam had been given a pay boost from £120,000 to £250,000 a year.
Ramsay says he approved of neither the appointment nor the increase in salary, but says he was completely ignored by his father-in-law.
Father and son have always been close. Adam Hutcheson was sentenced to 100 hours’ community service in 2004 after being caught up in a court case in which his father was accused of acting as a company director while disqualified, a case unrelated to the restaurant empire.
And last year, when Tana finally learned the heartbreaking truth about her father having an illegitimate ‘second family’, it was reported that Adam had known for more than a decade but had kept it secret from his sister.
Adam’s wife Adelaide — they married in Westminster in 2000 — has defended her husband, saying last year after the sackings: ‘The whole family is upset with Gordon. It is just not fair on us. My husband used to work for Gordon’s company as Chris Hutcheson’s number two. It makes me so angry to think Gordon sacked them all on the same day.’
‘We’ve been rumbled’
Chris and Adam Hutcheson mounted a cover-up to destroy evidence, Ramsay alleges, until eventually Hutcheson Snr wrote in an email: ‘Guess we have been rumbled’.
Legal PA Theresa Brattle was taken on a luxury trip to Australia by the married son of Chris Hutcheson in October 2010
Adam ‘systematically deleted 60,000 emails from his computer’ while, between October 15 and November 11 last year, someone erased the company’s entire email backup history and all the backup tapes were removed.
Meanwhile, it is said, Hutcheson’s filing cabinet was cleared of almost all paperwork.
Yet even after their sackings, Hutcheson and his son were still trying to break in to the company’s computers, it is claimed.
An email on December 14, 2010, said to be from Adam to his father, read: ‘See if you can crack the code — let me know if you break in.’
In March this year, once it is said they realised Ramsay knew about the hacking, Hutcheson allegedly emailed his son they had been ‘rumbled’, but added: ‘Bit late though.’
Ramsay’s £4.4m in 18 months
The writ offers a fascinating glimpse into the vast earning power of Gordon Ramsay’s brand.
The chef and his father-in-law agreed to guarantee themselves a bare minimum income from the firm of £500,000 each per year — after all taxes had been taken off, meaning their actual salaries were close to £1million.
But that was just the tip of the financial iceberg.
In good times, income flooded in from Gordon Ramsay’s personal appearances, highly popular television shows and book deals — all on top of the profits from Ramsay’s restaurants.
Ramsay and Hutcheson agreed to split the proceeds according to the ratio 85:15, the court document says.
In just 18 months up to October 2010, Ramsay’s share was £4.4 million in non-restaurant income.
When Ramsay broke into the lucrative American television market in 2005 with his highly acclaimed Hell’s Kitchen USA, his very first episode earned him £243,210.
'Mistress paid £5,000 a month to do nothing'
Chris Hutcheson allegedly set up his mistress, Sara Stewart, with an extraordinary £5,000-a-month retainer on the company — even though she did no work for it.
The Ramsay writ says it was part of a scheme in which the money was used to meet vast interest payments on a £1 million bank loan which Ms Stewart had taken out to purchase shares in Gordon Ramsay Holdings.
The chef brands the whole arrangement ‘unlawful’ and claims Ms Stewart — also given an £80,000-a-year job as ‘director of digital media’ at the firm — must have known it was.
Hand-in-hand: Chris Hutcheson and alleged mistress Sara Stewart
Glamorous accountant Ms Stewart is described in the writ as thinking of herself as ‘akin’ to Hutcheson’s wife. She was photographed last year strolling out to lunch hand-in-hand with Hutcheson.
Suspicions they were having an affair were common currency at Gordon Ramsay Holdings, but this is the first time the alleged relationship between Hutcheson and Ms Stewart, 49, has been brought into the public domain.
The writ alleges the pair ‘have been in a close personal relationship which has been described by [Ms Stewart] as being akin to that of husband and wife’.
What Hutcheson’s real wife, Greta, will make of this astonishing claim can only be guessed at.
Greta is described as a proud woman with a forthright style known to offend some — and was once said to be ‘happiest when wearing a Jaeger suit’.
But so far at least, she seems to have been content to turn a blind eye to her husband’s serial adultery.
Hutcheson has two grown-up illegitimate children by his former mistress Frances Styles, 58.
He kept them in a life of luxury and even went on ‘family’ holidays with them, with his unsuspecting daughter Tana believing he was on work trips.
More recently, he went on a Disney holiday with Ms Stewart — whose husband died in a car accident — and her children.
Hutcheson’s womanising is so well documented a judge recently dubbed him a ‘serial paterfamilias’ — meaning the head of more than one family.
Another woman named by Ramsay yesterday is Gina Cowne — believed to be Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne, a high-flying publicity agent who used to promote Gordon Ramsay as a celebrity speaker.
The chef alleges that Mrs Nelthorpe-Cowne’s ‘relationship’ with Hutcheson is the ‘reason’ he splashed out £3,773 on flights for her on a company credit card.
Ramsay says charging the flights to the company was improper because it was a ‘personal expense’ of Hutcheson’s.
With her husband Mark, blonde Mrs Nelthorpe-Cowne, 45, runs Kruger Cowne, described as ‘one of Europe’s leading talent management companies’ representing a host of names including Sir Bob Geldof, Elle Macpherson and Claudia Schiffer.
Meanwhile, Greta Hutcheson was also receiving money from the company, claims the writ.
It says that, from September 2004, Hutcheson put his wife on the payroll on a salary of £16,000 — but alleges she did nothing for the money.
There was no comment from Ms Stewart yesterday.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2022994/Conned-father-law-Gordon-Ramsey-accuses-wifes-father-hacking-private-emails-plundering-restaurant-empire-1-4m-finance-serial-womanising.html#ixzz1UEYhRdJj