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Wednesday, June 2, 1999 Published at 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK

UK Politics

Aitken's home contents seized

Jonathan Aitken with his former wife outside their London home

Creditors have seized the contents of former Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken's £1.5m home, including his watch and cufflinks, days before he is sentenced for perjury.

Aitken owes The Guardian and Granada Television about £2m in legal costs. They had rejected his final offer of £840,000.

The former Conservative MP transferred ownership of his house in Lord North Street, in Westminster, to his former wife as part of a divorce settlement.

But he still lives in the five-story terrace and its contents remained seizable by the debt collectors who arrived last Thursday.

Facing jail

Aitken declared himself bankrupt after the collapse of his libel trial against The Guardian and Granada. He claims his assets total only £40,000.

He faces the gravest blow from the case, which has so far cost him his marriage, personal fortune and career, when the High Court hands down its sentence following his decision to plead guilty to charges of perjury and perverting the course of justice.

Aitken himself has said he expects to be sent to jail for a considerable period of time.

But before that he was forced to watch as some of his most treasured possessions were taken from his home.

Rolex, letters and cufflinks

The debt collectors were sent by accountants Baker Tilly, in turn appointed by the Department of Trade and Industry to seek the maximum gain from Aitken's estate in order to pay his creditors.

Among the items they removed were Aitken's 21-year-old Rolex and his cufflinks. When he complained the watch had sentimental value, he was offered a cheap replacement on the spot.

His son's personal computer and boxes of letters, some from former Prime Minister John Major, also found their way into the removal van outside.

A friend of the disgraced politician told The Daily Telegraph he had endured the ordeal with "stoicism" but attacked the way it had been carried out.

"Short of raiding the fridge, they've taken everything he's got."

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10 May 99†|†UK
Aitken declared bankrupt

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