Anthea Turner to fight legal action 'with teeth and claws'
Anthea Turner will fight a legal action against her with "teeth and claws," as the trustee of her former husband's bankrupt estate sues for £1.6 million, her lawyer said.
The 55-year-old TV personality is facing court action over the sale of the former marital home she shared with Grant Bovey - whom she divorced last year after he had an affair.
It is understood the 57-acre property in Surrey called Barbins Grange was sold in 2009 for £10 million, after the collapse of Mr Bovey's buy-to-let property business during the financial crisis.
And instead of an equal split of proceeds, the Daily Mail reports that Turner received more than £3 million, which she used to buy a new home in her name, while her then husband got just over £400,000.
Court papers lodged at Guildford County Court and seen by the Mail, state the basis of the legal claim is that the majority of the proceeds were kept out of reach of the lenders - who were owed millions by Mr Bovey.
Details of the legal action, being funded by litigation funding group Manolete Partners, show that Chris Farrington, the trustee of Mr Bovey's bankrupt estate and a partner at Deloitte, is asking the court to force Turner to repay £1.6 million.
Turner's lawyer, Mike Stubbs of Mischon De Reya, told the Press Association that the Surrey estate is one she bought and owned before she married Mr Bovey and that the claim will be "fiercely defended".
"The action is being brought six years into the bankruptcy - literally three days before limitation expires. And is based on information which the trustee has had since the beginning," he said.
"It won't be successful, if they had a case they would have brought it five years ago. What they are trying to do is to put pressure on my client so she pays something to make them go away.
"This will be fiercely defended. Anthea will fight back with her teeth and claws - but as always with elegance."
He said if any money was recovered, the trustee and the professional advisers would get paid before the creditors, and that the majority of Mr Bovey's creditors were in fact banks - calling him a "victim" of the crash.
"This is one of the percentage of cases that the professionals and funders will lose because there is no viable case," he added.
In 2003 Mr Bovey set up his property business called Imagine Homes, rumoured at one point to have been worth £100 million, before it went into administration in 2008 owing a reported £50 million.
From the sale of their Surrey estate it is understood that Turner used the proceeds to clear a £6 million mortgage, receiving £3.3 million for herself and her husband £420,000.
Turner used the cash to buy another property in her name, where the couple, who married in 2000, then moved.
In the court papers, Mr Farrington says the proceeds should have been split equally at the time of the house sale, that Mr Bovey's bankrupt estate is owed £1.6 million, and that the couple took the conscious decision to use the cash in just Turner's name to keep it out of creditor's' hands.
Mr Farrington says Mr Bovey, at the time of the sale, was under "mounting pressure" from creditors, including banks, and that the court should "redress the balance" of distribution after Turner received a "disproportionately excessive share."
Mr Stubbs told the Press Association: "The idea that even if the claim had legs, that Anthea could afford £1.6 million is wishful thinking in the extreme."