Gordon Ramsay accused of making a mess of film plans - court
Film director Gary Love has told the High Court how a legal battle launched by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has "made a mess" of his plans to start up new film businesses in America.
Ramsay is accusing his father-in-law, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to "forge" his signature and make him personally liable for the £640,000-a-year annual rental on the historic York & Albany pub near Regent's Park in London.
The chef is asking a judge to grant a declaration that the rental guarantee is not binding because his signature was used without his knowledge and authorisation when the 25-year lease was signed in 2007.
Mr Love, who owns the York & Albany, has described Ramsay's allegation as an "absurd" attempt to wriggle out of his rental commitments.
The director, who has produced episodes of well known TV series including Casualty, Waking the Dead, Prime Suspect and The Bill, entered the witness box at London's High Court to be cross-examined after saying in a written statement that Ramsay was not being candid and must have known his signature was being used.
Mr Love stated he was currently developing TV serials in the US and was soon to start shooting films and shows.
His family had made the move to Los Angeles as a property had been rented and his children booked into US schools.
But his plans were in trouble owing to the York & Albany currently being unsaleable because the authenticity of the signatures on the lease was being disputed by Ramsay, depriving him of start-up capital for his American film businesses.
Mr Love described how "celebrity chefs were circling like vultures" back in September 2007 when he was offering the 25-year lease, but the current Ramsay litigation "has really made a mess of my life".
Mr Love said it was "difficult to comprehend how Gordon Ramsay can have been unaware of the fact that he had agreed to provide a personal guarantee on July 19 2007, following which there had then been almost six months of discussions between the parties' respective lawyers concerning the terms of the guarantee, and its limits, so that the original unqualified guarantee was watered down."
The film maker said, according to press reports, Ramsay had already paid £2m in legal fees over his dispute with his father-in-law.
But all he had to do was deposit £1.28m, under the watered down agreement, "and the guarantee falls away".
Mr Love said: "I can think of no reason why he is going to such lengths to challenge the guarantee, save that he intends to let the two corporate parties to the lease go into liquidation rather than pay the high rent".
Mr Hutcheson acted as business manager for the Ramsay group of companies until the chef sacked him and Tana's brother, Adam, on the grounds of "gross misconduct" in 2010.