Gordon Ramsay’s father-in-law Christopher Hutcheson allegedly used a ghostwriting machine to forge the chef’s signature and use it to seal a pub deal worth thousands.
The famous chef says he was duped into the £640,000-a-year rental contract for the York and Albany in north London.
Ramsay is now seeking a declaration to un-bind him from the agreement because he claims the 25-year lease on the contract, signed in 2007, “was not lawfully authorised”.
He told High Court judge Mr Justice Morgan that his “deep and extensive trust in Hutcheson was entirely misplaced” and that Hutcheson had defrauded him and his company, Gordon Ramsay Holdings, “of hundreds of thousands of pounds”.
Hutcheson was previously at the helm of Gordon Ramsay Holdings, but was “summarily dismissed from the group” in 2010. Ramsay alleged that Hutcheson wrongly withdrew more than £1million from the company and made other improper payments.
Discovering the existence of the lease guarantee, Ramsay told the judge, was “a shock - a devastation”.
“The company is still in the hook for the lease, and what was devastating for my wife and I was that we were guaranteeing it until 2033,” he said.
“There were many horrific discoveries because I can recognise my signature and pinpoint one forged by machine.”
A key issue of the case, however, was whether Hutcheson was authorised to use a “ghostwriter” machine, used to sign Ramsay’s name on the personal guarantee.
Gary Love, the film director who owns the York and Albany, described Ramsay’s claims as an “absurd” attempt to free himself of his rental agreement.
Love contests that Ramsay’s application for a declaration is not bound by the guarantee.
Ramsay is expected to give evidence during the hearing that he had agreed to use the ghostwriter, which electronically replicates a signature made with a fountain or ballpoint pen. However , he claims he had only done so for the “purposes of merchandising material” and that Hutcheson had ”used the ghostwriter far more widely than that, using it to sign various contracts in (Ramsay's) name“.
The case continues.