Gordon Ramsay’s father-in-law has started a six-month prison sentence for computer hacking, as part of a bitter feud with the firebrand celebrity chef which has lasted the best part of a decade.
Chris Hutcheson, 69, was jailed yesterday along with his sons Adam Hutcheson, 47, and Chris Hutcheson Jnr, 37, for conspiring to access the F-Word star and other Gordon Ramsay Holdings Limited staff emails hundreds of times over the space of five months in 2010 and 2011.
As well as his prison term, the almost decade-long legal fall-out from the men’s feud has cost the father of Ramsay’s wife, Tana, more than £2 million in damages and legal costs, the Old Bailey heard.
The hack included accessing information regarding Ramsay’s intellectual property rights and other material which might give them the upper hand in their legal spat and embarrass the star.
Stories about a “hair transplant” and a “fishing trip” later appeared in the newspapers, the court heard – something Hutcheson Snr denied responsibility for, via his lawyer.
Jailing Hutcheson Snr, Judge John Bevan QC said: “The whole episode of five months amounts to an unattractive and unedifying example of dirty linen being washed in public.”
On one day alone in February 2011, the court heard, Hutcheson Snr accessed the system 600 times and Adam Hutcheson accessed it 282 times. After their actions were discovered, Hutcheson Snr told his son Chris in an email: “Guess we have been rumbled. Bit late though.”
The dispute dates back to 2008, when the restaurant business ran into financial difficulty and Ramsay, 50, said he was forced to sell his Ferrari to help pay debts.
Both Ramsay and his father-in-law dipped into their own pockets in an effort to keep it afloat, with accounts at the time showing the celebrity chef put £3.5 million into the business, while Hutcheson put in £1.5m.
Hutcheson was sacked in October 2010 after 12 years at Ramsay’s side.
The court heard there had been something of a reconciliation and as a result Mr and Mrs Ramsay had withdrawn their support for the criminal prosecution earlier this year.
Hutcheson Snr, of Earlsfield, Hutcheson Jnr, from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, and Adam Hutcheson, from Sevenoaks, in Kent, admitted conspiring to cause a computer to access programmes and data.