Ashby 'paid over the odds' for flat

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The Independent Online
David Ashby, the Tory MP, paid over the odds for a flat in south-west London, after he separated from his wife, because he was so keen to live next door to a male friend, according to the woman who sold it to him.

Patricia Bridge, the owner of the Putney flat, was asked by Dr Ciaran Kilduff, who had bought the neighbouring flat, whether she would be interested in selling the second property, which was above his, to Mr Ashby.

After Ms Bridge showed Mr Ashby around, they struck a deal that he would pay pounds 80,000 for the one-bedroom flat, almost the same price Dr Kilduff had paid a year before, despite the fact Ms Bridge believed the market had declined.

"I had asked more than the going rate, on the basis that two people who were friends would very much want to live next door," Ms Bridge said.

When an article appeared in the press alleging Mr Ashby had left his wife to live close to another man, Ms Bridge believed she had been right. "My thought was that my gamble had been correct."

Silvana Ashby, the Italian wife of Mr Ashby, also continued to give evidence on the 14th day of her husband's libel case against the Sunday Times and Andrew Neil, the former editor. Mr Ashby denies he is a homosexual.

Mr Ashby and Alex, 27, their daughter, sat together. Richard Hartley QC, for the Sunday Times, requested that Alex should leave the court because her presence upset Mrs Ashby.

Ms Ashby, who earlier gave evidence against her mother for Mr Ashby, did not leave. Instead she heard her mother say: "This story had a very deep psychological affect on all of us, and my daughter can't come to terms with it ... I wish she wasn't here now. it only upsets her."

In a colourful exchange with Geoffrey Shaw QC, for Mr Ashby, Mrs Ashby accused him of trying to stereotype her as an "hysterical Italian" with a fiery temper. "Because I'm Italian I'm supposed to go mad every so often.Isn't that what's being said in this court?" she said.

Mrs Ashby claims her husband confessed to being homosexual in October 1993..

When Mr Ashby moved to the flat above Dr Kilduff, Mrs Ashby accused them of having an affair. "I knew my husband was taking him to the theatre and cinema, because he told me," Mrs Ashby said.

In a letter to her husband read out in court, Mrs Ashby accused him of taking all their belongings away from the family home, including the cutlery, and was furious Dr Kilduff could be eating with it. "I will disinfect every bit of cutlery that has touched that man's mouth," Mrs Ashby wrote.

The case continues.