Katona given two-week bankruptcy reprieve

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The Independent Online

Former Atomic Kitten star Kerry Katona was given a further two-week reprieve at the High Court today in her bankruptcy battle with the taxman.

At a brief hearing in London a bankruptcy registrar adjourned the case until August 21.

In June Katona was given until today to find £157,000 to pay off the remainder of a £417,000 tax bill.

But when the case returned to court today, lawyers representing the reality TV star and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) told Mr Registrar Nicholls at the Bankruptcy Court that the parties had agreed there should be another "short adjournment".

Katona, 27, was not present for the proceedings.

Agreeing to adjourn the case for two weeks, the registrar said: "I am going to mark it for settlement of the balance. I am going to mark it final."

He stressed that bankruptcy petitions "are not to be held over someone's head indefinitely".

Mr Registrar Nicholls ordered that, when the matter returned to court on August 21, the Revenue would have to elect whether it wished to proceed with the petition, dismiss it, "or to have the bankruptcy order made".

Earlier, Luke Harris, counsel representing the star, asked the registrar to hold the hearing in private.

The grounds for making the application were, he said, "the confidentiality of Miss Katona's affairs and her privacy".

But Mr Registrar Nicholls refused, commenting that the "general rule is that these matters should be heard in public".

No financial details were given during today's hearing.

In June Mr Harris said Katona was expecting payments of £472,000 before the end of August - £291,000 for work already done.

He asked for "one final indulgence by the court" and the case was adjourned until today.

The bankruptcy petition was issued against Katona in January.