SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Sad fall of the opulent House of Magan

SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Former Tory party treasurer Lord Magan – who lived a dazzling opulent life and was once said to be worth £200m – is declared bankrupt

After a successful financial career, he appeared to have it all — a peerage, a £6million house in Kensington, an estate in Ireland and a £30million collection of Old Masters.

But no longer. For I can disclose former Conservative Party treasurer Lord Magan has been declared bankrupt in the High Court following a legal action brought by Wilton Management Group, claiming £805,000.

George Magan, 75, son of the late Brigadier Bill Hagan, one-time head of MI5, was unavailable for comment. But Stuart Cottingham, of Libertas Associates, the insolvency practitioner handling his case, tells me that initial claims by creditors total ‘in excess of £14 million’, though that figure has yet to be verified.

It is a brutal reversal of fortune for Magan, who trousered £20 million 25 years ago after selling the private equity firm he jointly created, Hambro Magan. 

I can disclose former Conservative Party treasurer Lord Magan (pictured with his wife) has been declared bankrupt in the High Court following a legal action brought by Wilton Management Group, claiming £805,000

Thereafter, it seemed that he could do no wrong, with estimates of his fortune varying from £60 million to £200 million, as he juggled roles in the commercial, political and cultural spheres, becoming a director of the Bank of Ireland, a Tory bigwig — donating £1.49million to the party — and a trustee of the Royal Opera House and London Philharmonic Orchestra.

None of his acquisitions, which included a £25 million estate in Shropshire, was more dazzling than Castletown Cox, often described as Ireland’s most beautiful house, boasting a ballroom, billiards room and formal gardens designed by Mollie, Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury. Magan, who bought it in 1999, spent millions on refurbishment.

‘It was extraordinary,’ one of his guests tells me. ‘Wonderful pictures, huge numbers of staff — butlers, the lot.’

It is a brutal reversal of fortune for Magan, who trousered £20 million 25 years ago after selling the private equity firm he jointly created, Hambro Magan. Pictured: Magan’s estate in Kilkenny

But perhaps the price was too high. Two years ago, the house and its 513 acres were sold for £18 million in a deal which allowed Magan to remain as a tenant. But last year that arrangement ended following a High Court action which heard that the peer owed £500,000 in rent. And a year ago he sold his Kensington house for £6 million to a company in the British Virgin Islands.

Stuart Cottingham assures me he is aware of ‘complicated structuring’ and ‘use of offshore trusts’ and adds: ‘Anyone who has information that may assist us should contact me immediately.’

The BBC’s bird-loving Security Correspondent Frank Gardner, who was paralysed 16 years ago after being shot in Saudi Arabia, has accused Britain’s birdwatching community of discriminating against the disabled.

‘It’s not a wheelchair-friendly place for birdwatchers,’ says Frank, who was elected president of the British Trust for Ornithology last year. ‘The amount of times I find there’s a wooden style I can’t get over, or a gate that’s difficult. There are almost no facilities in a lot of these places around Britain. It’s got a long way to go.’

The father-of-two adds: ‘It isn’t just people in wheelchairs. It’s often people with prams, or an elderly grandparent who would love to see these places but can’t.’

Society model Frankie Herbert shared a picture of herself with her boyfriend, artist Robbie Jeffcott

Society model Frankie Herbert has walked in front of the Queen, but her latest fashion statement is all down to her budding new romance.

The 25-year-old niece of the Earl of Carnarvon, who owns Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey was filmed, shared a picture of herself with her boyfriend, artist Robbie Jeffcott. Proving just how sartorially aligned they are, the couple sport matching pink attire — with Frankie in a £35 dress from High Street chain H&M and Robbie, 24, in a Scotch & Soda shirt.

‘Two in the pink,’ she captions it playfully.

Even the perennially youthful Delevingne sisters are feeling their age. 

‘Turns out I am now a proper grown up and need glasses,’ says Chloe Delevingne, 35, older sister of actress Poppy and supermodel Cara. 

‘I’ve never thought I was one of those people who they suit but am very happy with my new pair. Now I feel very serious and like I could conquer the world.’ 

River Cafe owner Ruth Rogers reveals that designer Bella Freud —whose late father, Lucian, was a regular diner — has made a bespoke jumper for the Michelin-starred Italian eatery in West London

What would Lady Mary say? Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery reveals she’s turned her kitchen into a nightclub during lockdown.

‘Music is very important and at the moment we can’t dance in pubs and clubs, so occasionally, on a Friday, I’ll turn the volume up and put on some tunes and dance around the kitchen,’ says the 38-year-old, who lives in North-East London with her boyfriend, Jasper Waller-Bridge — brother of Fleabag’s Phoebe. 

‘I have an eclectic taste in music — I used to listen to a lot of Nirvana, and I’ve rediscovered that recently.’

Let’s hope the neighbours don’t complain tonight.

He’s a Hollywood star whose films have included War Horse, Great Expectations and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, but Jeremy Irvine’s latest role has really set tongues wagging. 

To entertain himself during the pandemic, the 30-year-old, from Cambridgeshire has been moonlighting as a tutor — offering his expertise online to those in need. 

Jokily styling himself ‘Professor Irvine’, he claims to give ‘expert advice on any subject to a PhD level and above’. 

Jeremy, the son of a politician and an engineer, did not go to university — leaving school at 18 to study drama — so he’s relying on books to field tricky questions about maths, physics and literature. 

Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery reveals she’s turned her kitchen into a nightclub during lockdown

Broadcaster Jeremy Vine is not one to mince his words. ‘To say 2020 has been a bad year is like saying some people are slightly annoyed by the music of Jedward. 

‘Understatement is a British thing, but I think we need to say it loud and clear to each other — this has been the worst year most of us can ever remember. Like a visit to the dentist where you hear the drill start screaming and it never stops.’ 

Much loved by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Sir Mick Jagger, The River Cafe is now fashionable in more ways than one.

Owner Ruth Rogers reveals that designer Bella Freud —whose late father, Lucian, was a regular diner — has made a bespoke jumper for the Michelin-starred Italian eatery in West London.

The £420 navy garment has Nemesis written across it, referring to their most popular dessert, Chocolate Nemesis Cake. 

‘Bella eats here a lot — she loves the Nemesis cake — and she’s a good friend of mine,’ Ruth tells me. 

‘We’re selling a lot of food for Christmas online through Shop The River Cafe, so we thought, why not a sweater?’

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