Gordon Ramsay: I was a performing monkey while father-in-law had a cushy office job

TV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law

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The Independent Online

Gordon Ramsay has told a judge he felt like “a performing monkey” in working hard to build a restaurant empire while his father-in-law allegedly syphoned off his money.

The celebrity chef was giving evidence at the High Court in London yesterday in his case against Christopher Hutcheson, who Ramsay claims used a “ghost writer” machine to forge his signature and make him personally liable for the £640,000-a-year annual rental on a pub.

Ramsay told Chancery Division judge Mr Justice Morgan that his father-in-law was “up to no good” while enjoying a “cushy” office job.

The restaurant owner and TV star is seeking a declaration that the rental guarantee on the York & Albany pub near Regent’s Park, London, is not binding because his signature was used without his knowledge in 2007.

But the film director Gary Love, who owns the York & Albany, has previously described Ramsay’s allegation as an “absurd” attempt to wriggle out of his rental commitments.

Mr Hutcheson acted as business manager for the Ramsay group of companies until the chef sacked both him and his wife Tana’s brother, Adam, on the grounds of “gross misconduct” in 2010.

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Ramsay insists that he believed his signature was only being used for books and merchandise (Ethan Miller/Getty)

In cross-examination yesterday, the chef was questioned about emails in which he expressed his unhappiness about what was happening while Mr Hutcheson was managing the business.

Romie Tager QC, appearing for Mr Love, suggested to Ramsay: “You were complaining about him... [for] making you overwork away from the office while he was up to no good in the office.” The chef agreed and compared himself to a “performing monkey”.

Mr Justice Morgan, seeking to clarify the chef’s view, suggested: “You were doing the donkey work. You were out there working day in, day out while [Mr Hutcheson] had a cushy number at the office where he was able to abstract personal funds for personal gain. I am not saying this is true, but this is what you are saying.” Mr Ramsay agreed.

The chef maintains he knew one ghost machine and perhaps two were used by Mr Hutcheson but that he believed the signatures it printed were just for merchandising and books, not for business documents.

Mr Tager suggested the chef knew full well the machine was used to sign the York & Albany rental guarantee and other documents but Mr Ramsay denied it.