Walker's wife 'returned pounds 214,000 cheque'

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The Independent Online
THE wife of the fallen tycoon George Walker returned a pounds 214,000 compensation cheque to Brent Walker, the leisure and property group, according to lawyers petitioning to have her husband declared bankrupt. The money was part of a pounds 340,000 pay-off negotiated with the company in January.

Philip Heslop QC, for the TSB and other creditors, said yesterday that a larger, tax- free sum of pounds 260,000 was later paid into her pension fund because it suited both Jean Walker and her husband that she did not have immediate access to the money.

Mrs Walker has said that she has no money to finance her obligations under the terms of a voluntary arrangement, agreed last September between Mr Walker and his creditors to stave off bankruptcy.

That agreement included a commitment by Mrs Walker to fund legal cases, including a claim of unfair dismissal from Mr Walker against Brent Walker. Acceptance of the payoff in cash would have undermined her claim that she could not afford to do so.

It is understood that the change in payment was struck between Mr Walker and Keith Dibble, company secretary of Brent Walker. Mr Dibble refused to comment.

The allegation was made yesterday on the third day of a bankruptcy hearing in the High Court, which is expected to be concluded today.

A petition for bankruptcy was filed last week by the supervisor of September's voluntary arrangement, alleging breaches in the terms of that arrangement.

The alleged breaches include Mrs Walker's failure to fund the legal actions, which if successful could net pounds 14.5m for creditors. The case against Mr Walker also focuses on his alleged failure to pay 50 per cent of his income to his creditors. No payments have been made, despite evidence that he has received income since September.

Total debts claimed against Mr Walker amount to pounds 180m.