London - Gordon Ramsay is being sued by his father-in-law’s former mistress for breach of privacy over claims he hired a private detective to take intimate photos of her through her bedroom window.
Sara Stewart, 50, an accountant who had a five-year affair with Ramsay’s father-in-law Chris Hutcheson, lodged a writ at the High Court on August 17 claiming breaches of personal privacy while she was employed by the chef’s firm Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH).
The allegations relate to photographs that Mrs Stewart – a widowed mother of four who worked for Ramsay for 12 years – has previously claimed were obtained through surveillance during her relationship with Ramsay’s business partner Mr Hutcheson.
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday last year, Mrs Stewart told how she believed detectives took a number of intimate pictures of her with Mr Hutcheson through a bedroom window of her £2.5 million home in Ascot, Berkshire, which she claimed Ramsay threatened to make public.
In November 2010, Ramsay, who is married to Mr Hutcheson’s daughter Tana, admitted in an open letter to his mother-in-law Greta that he hired private detectives to watch her husband, whom he suspected of financial misconduct and reading his personal emails.
It read: “To curb my suspicions I employed a private detective and the situation started to unravel very quickly. The very complex life that Chris leads has seen many of my key staff feeling that they had to cover on his behalf. His away days were rarely what I thought they were.”
The High Court case, which will be heard by judge Master Bowles later this year, is the latest round in a series of highly publicised legal battles that have torn through the multi-million-pound Ramsay empire over the past two years.
In October 2010, Ramsay sacked his father-in-law as chief executive of GRH and suspended Mrs Stewart, the company’s director of digital media, while her lover was investigated.
Later that month, Mrs Stewart claimed Ramsay sent Mr Hutcheson’s son Adam a text message which read: “Please tell Sarah [sic] to close her curtains in Ascot there’s a footpath right outside her window. Shots are amazing. Happy to pass the whole ******* lot to the NOTW [News Of The World] . . . ps I’ve also got a [memory] stick for your PC if you want to see the most amazing footage.”
Mrs Stewart claims that when she emailed Ramsay to say his actions gave her “significant concern” for her children’s safety, the chef replied by sending her a photograph showing her topless with Mr Hutcheson.
Last August, Ramsay filed a writ accusing his father-in-law of hacking into personal and company files and of using £1.4 million of company money to fund a double life with his mistress.
In December 2011, Ramsay was awarded £250,000 for breach of confidence for accessing private emails, but faced a counter-claim from Mr Hutcheson for unfair dismissal and unpaid wages.
The cases were settled out of court in February for an undisclosed amount after both parties withdrew their claims.
In a statement, GRH said: “We can confirm that Gordon Ramsay and Gordon Ramsay Holdings have reached a settlement with Chris Hutcheson and other members of the Hutcheson family.
“The terms of the settlement are confidential but we can confirm that Chris Hutcheson is no longer a director or shareholder of Gordon Ramsay Holdings and all civil litigation and employment tribunal claims brought by each of the two parties and other family members have been withdrawn.”
On Sunday, a spokesman for Mr Ramsay declined to comment. - Mail On Sunday