Aitken is granted insolvency order

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THE HIGH Court granted Jonathan Aitken, the former Tory minister, an interim order under the Insolvency Act.

It is the first step towards voluntary insolvency and means no creditor can serve a bankruptcy petition or take other legal action to recover money from Aitken in the next 14 days. The move comes as The Guardian and Granada Television pursue him for the pounds 2m he was ordered to pay them as a result of a failed libel action.

The order, dated yesterday, states: "During the period of 14 days beginning with the day after the date of this order and during any extended period for which this interim order has effect: No bankruptcy petition relating to the above-named Jonathan William Peter Aitken (the debtor) may be presented or proceeded with; no other proceedings and no execution or other legal process may be commenced or continued against the debtor or his property except with the leave of the court."

The case was adjourned to 19 March. Last year the High Court froze Aitken's assets in the wrangle over the cost of his libel action.

A Granada spokesman said: "This ... comes as no surprise and is entirely consistent with Mr Aitken's approach to honouring his obligations. We will obviously press our claims as a principal creditor."