Paul Bhattacharjee declared bankrupt week before 'suicide'

Action filed by HMRC days before Bond actor was found dead at the bottom of Splash Point cliffs in East Sussex

A Shakespearean actor found dead at the bottom of a cliff after a suspected suicide was made bankrupt last week after being pursued by the taxman, The Independent has learned.

Paul Bhattacharjee, who also appeared in a James Bond film and Eastenders, went missing on July 10, a day after he was declared bankrupt in the High Courts of Justice, London.

The bankruptcy action was filed by one petitioner, HM Revenue and Customs. The amount he owed has not yet been declared. Nor is it clear if there were any other creditors.

The court action will inform the police investigation looking at reasons why the  successful actor, whose death shocked the arts world, apparently took his own life.

As well as appearing in the James Bond film Casino Royale the versatile 53-year-old appeared in several episodes of EastEnders as Inzamam between 2008 and 2010 as well as a number of other films and TV series.

He was last seen leaving the Royal Court theatre in London’s Sloane Square on Wednesday, July 10, where he had been due to appear in the play Talk Show, which began this week. His role in the play was recast.

His body was found at Splash Point cliffs, Seaford, East Sussex, on July 12 and identified a day later. It is believed the actor visited his mother, who also lives in Seaford, not long before he died. Police said they were not treating his death as suspicious.

Those who saw the actor during his final days remarked he was in good spirits, but on the night he was last seen he sent a text message to his girlfriend, Emma McKie, 23, whom he met on stage in the West End. That text raised concerns about his welfare and led to appeals to trace him.

His son, Rahul Bhattacharjee-Prashar – who lives with his art director mother, Arti Prashar, from whom Mr Bhattacharjee was separated - said disappearance was “completely out of character”.

Other actors, Bend It Like Beckham actress Parminder Nagra, Sex in the City star Kim Cattrall and Stephen Fry, appealed on Twitter for help in finding the actor.

After his death, Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre Vicky Featherstone said: “We are deeply shocked and completely devastated at the loss of our dear friend and brilliant colleague. “Paul has been such an important part of the world of theatre in so many ways and we shall miss him terribly.”

His agent, Sally Long-Innes, told the Times “he seemed completely fine to me”. She said: “As far as we could tell there was nothing wrong with his state of mind.”

The musician and composer Nitin Sawhney tweeted: “The saddest day. My friend (cast as Tagore in my play) Paul Bhattacharjee was found dead yesterday.”

Director Jamie Lloyd said: “Very sad to hear about the death of Paul Bhattacharjee. He was a very fine actor. My thoughts are with his family.”

Last year Mr Bhattacharjee appeared as Benedick opposite Meera Syal in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Much Ado about Nothing.

She said: “Paul was a consummate actor and relished every opportunity and challenge. He brought a freshness to each role.

“I will miss him and always regret very much that we have been robbed of his wonderful talent and the great work he still had to produce in his career.

“I gave him a lift home a few weeks ago and he was extremely happy and in good spirits and his death is such a shock and my thoughts are with his family.”

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