Monday, May 10, 1999 Published at 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Aitken declared bankrupt
Jonathan Aitken claimed debts of £200,000
Disgraced former Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken, who expects to be jailed after admitting perjury, has been declared bankrupt.
Aitken applied for bankruptcy after the collapse of his libel case against the Guardian and Granada Television left him facing a £2.4m bill for costs.
The former Tory MP is due to be sentenced next month after pleading guilty in January to perjury and making an untrue written statement in the course of the libel action.
In his bankruptcy petition to the High Court, Aitken said he had assets of less than £40,000 but owed creditors approaching £200,000.
His solicitor Michael Coleman, said Aitken had "no option" but to declare himself bankrupt.
"Mr Aitken has asked me to say that he is extremely sad to go bankrupt, particularly as this will mean a long period of uncertainty and difficulty for his family," Mr Coleman said.
"He also has asked me to say that having been advised, he came to the conclusion that no option other than bankruptcy was available to him in view of the Guardian and Granada's recent rejection of his £840,000 offer to settle the libel case costs."
The Guardian and Granada will now have to pursue their claims through the Trustee in Bankruptcy, along with Aitken's other creditors.
At his trial in January, Aitken admitted he has lied under oath during his libel action and then drafted a false witness statement for his daughter Victoria, then 18, in a bid to back up that deceit.
Detectives investigating Aitken, who lost his seat in Thanet, Kent, at the general election, interviewed Miss Aitken but a decision not to prosecute her was taken last August.
Aitken had embarked on the libel suit over reports that prominent Saudi Arabian friends paid for his stay at the Paris Ritz Hotel in 1993, when he was serving as Minister for Defence Procurement.
Accepting the payment would have been in contravention of the bible of government conduct, Questions of Procedure for Ministers.