Publicity 'butterflies' escape the captivity of bankruptcy

Some of Neil Hamilton's more surreal public appearances over the past three years have been at the rear end of a pantomime horse, on the cover of
GQ magazine with his modesty protected by a fig leaf, and at last month's Erotica 2004 festival in Manchester as a master of ceremonies.

Some of Neil Hamilton's more surreal public appearances over the past three years have been at the rear end of a pantomime horse, on the cover of GQ magazine with his modesty protected by a fig leaf, and at last month's Erotica 2004 festival in Manchester as a master of ceremonies.

But on the stroke of midnight yesterday the former Tory MP was finally able to put behind him such humiliations. The hour marked the discharge of his bankruptcy, bringing to an end a three-year period during which he could obtain no credit above £250 and was compelled to pay all income above "reasonable domestic needs" to the official receiver.

Bankruptcy has not been easy for a man once tipped for great things in the Conservative party. Mr Hamilton's wife, Christine, revealed that her best recent holidays had been in Cornwall: a fact of life "when your husband is bankrupt and you are freelance". But release from the receiver's grasp has apparently put an end to that kind of abstinence already. "The bankruptcy term is over and they are out of the country," a family friend said yesterday.

Mr Hamilton, unable to undertake legal or political work, was forced to resort to less serious lines of work during his period of bankruptcy. His Manchester Erotica appearance, carrying a woman in pink underwear on his shoulders, confirmed how far he had travelled since his days as a trade minister. "It's dirty work but somebody's got to do it," he said.

That was the nearest the former Tatton MP has come to recognising his descent into parody, although the appearance was nothing compared to advertisements for the VH1 television channel's Valentine's Love-In programme, which featured him and his wife kissing at the cinema.

The period of bankruptcy was imposed at Macclesfield County Court after Mr Hamilton's failed libel action and subsequent appeal against the Harrods boss Mohammed Fayed left him with debts rumoured to total £3m.

It enabled the receiver to acquire the Old Rectory, the Hamilton residence in the Cheshire hamlet of Nether Alderley, which bears the Latin inscription Deus nobis haec otia fecit (God made for us this life of ease) above the door.

The couple held on to the place for three years as they struggled to find a selling price acceptable to the receiver, but when it finally went for £1.25m last year they turned to their bolthole, the Battersea flat that Mrs Hamilton has owned since 1961.

While Mr Hamilton has faced financial constraints, his wife's earning power has soared as she has established herself as the star of their bizarre media machine. A toe-curling appearance on the BBC's Have I Got News For You established the couple's utter lack of sense of how they appear to others. Greater humiliation followed on Who Wants to be a Celebrity Millionaire, but then Mrs Hamilton discovered an unexpected reality television niche, winning millions of unexpected votes during an extended stay in I'm a Celebrity ­ Get Me Out of Here! two years ago.

Her television appearances are sporadic but she is milking them for all they are worth. "I've been very busy recently commenting on the third series of I'm a Celebrity," she says on her website. "People often ask me how I describe myself now ­ to which I say 'media butterfly ... if it is legal, honest and faintly decent I am up for it'!"

Whenever possible Mr Hamilton doubles up with her, from the back of the panto horse to his book Neil Hamilton's Great Political Eccentrics, a sequel to his wife's Book of British Battleaxes.

How much he has earned in the past three years is difficult to establish, since details of any payments from him to the receiver are not in the public domain.

Erotica industry insiders suggested yesterday that someone "not particularly famous" such as Mr Hamilton might earn £3,000 for cutting a ribbon. His share of the pantomime proceeds may have been £6,000, but GQ indicated that its cover stars are not paid.

Mrs Hamilton's website suggests hers is no mean income. "As the solvent family breadwinner, I could have arranged to buy Neil's half [of the Old Rectory] had we wanted to stay," she says.

But their "forthcoming appearances" list suggests the diary is not packed. The single up and coming item is an appearance on Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen. "Neil and I ... are not taking part in the programme ­ just enjoying the food on that one evening!" Mrs Hamilton says on the website.

There was also a warning from the Bankruptcy Advice Centre last night that Mr Hamilton's discharge may not be the end of his penury.

"If you want to apply for more than £500 credit you have to tell the bank you have been a bankrupt and that usually means they won't let you have it," said the centre's Phil Stone.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Subscriptions and Marketing Assistant

£12500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A subscriptions and marketing a...

Recruitment Genius: Advertising / Media Sales Executive

£15000 - £22200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious candidate is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Sub-editor - Editorial - Publishing

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A sub-editor is required to joi...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy