The media found a bankruptcy court friend today when Mr Deputy Registrar Middleton rejected calls for a bankruptcy hearing over former Atomic Kitten, Kerry Katona, to be heard behind closed doors.
Katona warded off a bid by the taxman at the hearing to have her declared bankrupt over a reported £157,000 debt.
Before the hearing got under way though her barrister, Luke Harris, had tried to get the press thrown out of the hearing at London’s High Court, claiming their interest was ‘purely gossip related”.
He told the court: ‘There is some indication that it would be detrimental to her health for further adverse publicity to occur. She is finding the media attention rather difficult and in her most recent witness statement she has described yet more personal problems.”
However, the Deputy Registrar ruled there was no medical evidence, and told Mr Harris: ‘I’m afraid I see no reason to exclude the press.”
Henderson Collymore, for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, told the Registrar that they want payment of the debt in full. It has been reported in the media that she owes £157,000 but the Revenue & Customs refused to confirm or deny this.
Collymore said his client was seeking a bankruptcy order today, and that Miss Katona had been given a supposedly ‘final’chance the last time the matter came to court.
However, Harris said that this client was due to be paid £472,000 by the end of August, £291,000 of which is for work that has already been completed. He said £257,000 of that will be due before the end of July.
As a result, he said there should be a distinction between the last hearing, when his client was unable to earn money to pay the debt, and the present hearing, when she has already earned it.
He added that Katona had ‘strenuously’sought to remortgage her properties, and continued to do so to raise funds.
He said: ‘I would ask for one final indulgence by the court, of a final adjournment.”
The Deputy Registrar ruled: ‘In the circumstances, although it was marked final, I will give a final period of time in which it can be paid. I am going to adjourn it to 7 August.”