Man behind 'Madchester' fights taxman after £50,000 bankruptcy case

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The Independent Online

The outspoken Mancunian businessman Tony Wilson architect of New Order, the Happy Mondays and the Hacienda nightclub, declared war on the Inland Revenue yesterday after he was declared bankrupt in county court.

Mr Wilson, who has started reading Manchester's TV news again after a music career that inspired Michael Winterbottom's film, 24-Hour Party People, called the circumstances that led to his bankruptcy "Kafka-esque", and insisted he had been the victim of a "clerical cock-up" by the Revenue, which is claiming for £50,000 in unpaid taxes.

"I'm very annoyed," he said. "I don't know what the Inland Revenue has been up to. I'm actually in the most solvent financial position I've been in for years."Mr Wilson insisted he had agreed to pay the debt by remortgaging the £1.8m loft apartment off central Deansgate he shares with his partner, Yvette Livesey. The remortgaging had been delayed for five weeks because of the impending bankruptcy petition, he said. After he secured the remortgage, he said he believed the bankruptcy hearing would be adjourned.

But he claimed it was held without his knowledge, and he was declared bankrupt in absentia. "I'm useless at answering letters and filling out forms," Mr Wilson added. "But I'd said I would remortgage my flat to get this debt cleared and they had the paperwork. When I returned home, I got the letter [telling me of the hearing]. I had missed it by a day."

Financial calamity is not new to 52-year-old Mr Wilson, a Manchester household name in the Seventies as a TV news presenter. Ten years ago, his music business career ended when his Factory Records label went into receivership with debts of more than £2m.

That career began in the mid-Seventies, and he fought to give bands such as the Sex Pistols and Joy Division their first TV chance on shows including What's On and So It Goes,.

He said he would be back in court on Friday to try to have the judgment overturned. A county court spokeswoman refused to release further details of the hearing because of "problems". The Inland Revenue refused to comment.