Aitken's creditors close to seizing his home and pension

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The Independent Online

The disgraced former Conservative Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken faces almost certain eviction from his five-storey Georgian home in Westminster after admitting he had access to millions of pounds from a Swiss bank account.

The disgraced former Conservative Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken faces almost certain eviction from his five-storey Georgian home in Westminster after admitting he had access to millions of pounds from a Swiss bank account.

His bankruptcy trustees are also planning an unprecedented legal action to seize control of Mr Aitken's £250,000 parliamentary pension. It would be the first time in the history of Parliament that an MP has lost the right to their pension.

The former MP for Thanet South owes more than £2.6m, mostly to The Guardian and Granada TV in court costs, after his libel action collapsed.

Last April, after many months of difficult negotiations with his creditors, a settlement was agreed whereby Mr Aitken would have, in effect, paid just £1.6m. The deal would have also resulted in Mr Aitken's early discharge from bankruptcy.

Under that agreement Mr Aitken's ex-wife Lolicia was to have bought the Aitken family home in Westminster at a bargain price of £1.2m - with what she said was her own money.

But in June it was claimed that Mr Aitken had used money from a secret Swiss bank account of £2.7m, which he had concealed when declaring his assets. In a confidential letter to the bankruptcy trustees Baker Tilly, Mr Aitken now admits that his former Saudi mentor Prince Mohammed, and other friends, paid money into a Lausanne account to fund his libel action. He claims he did not know the exact amount. It is a criminal offence to conceal assets.

The Baker Tilly trustees are unhappy that he has also refused to give them authority to contact his accountants Fides, in Lausanne, to examine bank statements for the account.

Creditors believe that they are unlikely to be able to get any remaining money from the account and that Mr Aitken's full British assets must be seized. That includes getting the full market value for the family's historic Lord North Street house. The property, with a dining room that can seat 40 people, may fetch between £2m and £3m.

"This is the end of the line for Aitken," said a creditor. "We are fed up with his lies and evasions. We want our money and we are tired of waiting for it. The news about his secret bank account was the last straw. He'll have to find somewhere smaller to live."

Mr Aitken has sold his other home, in Sandwich, Kent, near his former Parliamentary constituency, for close to £500,000. It was registered to a company in South America controlled by Lolicia Aitken's late maternal grandmother. The sale is the subject of an investigation by the Inland Revenue.

The creditors are also after the MP's pension. Previously, pensions of civil servants have been exempt from bankrupts' estates. Mr Aitken's lawyers say that parliamentary pensions should be dealt with in the same way. A legal action is underway to seize Mr Aitken's £300,000 private pension from his old company Aitken Hume.

Mr Aitken was released from prison in January after serving seven months of his sentence for perjury in the libel trial.