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Gordon Ramsay's relative Adam Hutcheson, from Sevenoaks handed suspended sentence for hacking emails

By KentOnline reporter

Gordon Ramsay's estranged father-in-law showed no emotion as he was jailed for hacking into the celebrity chef's emails to dig up dirt in a bitter business dispute.

Chris Hutcheson, 69, carried out the conspiracy with his sons Adam, 47 and from Sevenoaks, and Chris Hutcheson Jr, 37, after he was sacked from a senior role at Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd.

They hacked emails thousands of times between October 2010 and March 2011 to gather evidence that could be used against Mr Ramsay in the bitter dispute.

Adam Hutcheson. Picture: SWNS
Adam Hutcheson. Picture: SWNS

Over two days alone in February 2011, they logged into the company's network 882 times.

The trio were charged in February and admitted hacking in April at the Old Bailey.

Chris was jailed today for six months, while his two sons were both handed four-month suspended sentences.

He showed little emotion as he left the dock, after shaking hands and saying goodbye to his sons, while his daughter Orlana Butland, 45, watched from the public gallery.

Mr Ramsay and his wife Tana no longer wish to engage in the criminal proceedings, and seek "reconciliation", the court heard.

Julian Christopher QC, prosecuting, said: "Genuine efforts have been made on both sides to bring this about.

"And they have expressed concern that these criminal proceedings, that they no longer wish to support, may have a negative impact on that process."

Chris Snr, who went into business with the chef in 1998, became chief executive and director of the company.

But he fell out with the chef in 2010, and was dismissed in October that year.

Chris Jr, was the holding company's IT consultant, but was dismissed in January 2011.

Adam Hutcheson was the managing director of one of the companies in the group, and was responsible for the computers across the group along with Chris Jr.

He was eventually dismissed in December 2010.

Gordon Ramsay. Picture: Channel 4
Gordon Ramsay. Picture: Channel 4

During the five months after Chris Snr was dismissed, he repeatedly accessed the company's computers, and the emails of Mr and Mrs Ramsay, and other employees.

Mr Christopher said it was done "in order to obtain material that might embarrass Mr Ramsay, or be of use in the ongoing disputes".

He added: "In doing so, he had the active assistance of his two sons.

"The information which was obtained as a result of the unauthorised access to the computers was provided to the press, which resulted in considerable intrusion of Mr Ramsay."

On October 24 2010, Chris Snr emailed Chris Jr asking if he could help him access the email accounts of Mr and Mrs Ramsay, and Mr Ramsay's executive assistant.

He managed to access Mrs Ramsay's account.

The prosecutor added: "The defendant told his father getting into the other two accounts without a password might prove challenging, but might be possible if the first defendant thought there was any value."

In December 2010, Chris Jr sent his father a ten page document which contained all the company email accounts, their passwords if known, and a list headed "crack method".

On November 1 that year, he told his father Mr and Mrs Ramsay used the same password, which he provided.

Mr Christopher said: "He gave instructions as to how to mark an email unread, telling him to take great care, and not do anything that might arouse suspicion."

The case was heard at the Old Bailey
The case was heard at the Old Bailey

The hacking continued, and Chris Jr also provided general information about the running of the company to give his father an "insight" into how it was being run.

A period of "intense hacking" was carried out over 17-18 February 2011, in which there were 282 logins to the company network from Adam's computer.

On February 17, there were 600 logins from Chris Snr's computer alone.

On the same day, Adam sent his father an email containing legal advice from solicitors to senior GRHL employees over the dispute with Chris Snr.

Chris Snr also accessed in the email sent box a photograph of another employee, Sara Stewart.

Mr Christopher said: "Which, as the first defendant knew, Mr Ramsay had previously given the undertaking to solicitors acting for another company employee that he wouldn't distribute the photograph, on the grounds of privacy."

The next day, Adam accessed this email and sent it to a third party.

The prosecutor said: "The sending of the email in this way thus made it appear Mr Ramsay was in breach of his undertaking not to distribute the photograph."

The company network was moved onto a more secure system in February 2011.

Chris Jr told his father it had very strong security, and suggested it was "time to walk away quietly".

Mr Christopher said: "The first defendant responded that was a shame, but it would certainly free up a large part of the day as continually monitoring could be obsessive."

"The whole episode over five months amounts to an unattractive and unedifying example of dirty linen being washed in public." - Judge John Bevan QC

On March 18, Mr Ramsay's solicitors received a letter complaining he had been in breach of his legal undertaking not to distribute the photograph.

He knew he had not sent it, so instructed an IT consultant, who traced the IP addresses and the hacking plot was revealed.

Sentencing the trio, Judge John Bevan QC said: "The family's desire to put an end to the confrontations of the last seven years or so, and seek reconciliation, is to be encouraged.

"And I note that Mr and Mrs Ramsay no longer support the prosecution.

"The falling out which occurred was pro-longed and bitter. But the rights and wrongs of that are no concern of this court.

"Doubtless blame lies in all directions. But my focus must be solely on the aspects of the criminal offence, computer misuse, or hacking."

He added: "By seeking deliberately to get Mr Ramsay into serious trouble, and of itself demonstrates the gravity of what was going on.

"These emails were unsurprisingly embarrassing, damaging and personally distressing to Mr Ramsay.

"The whole episode over five months amounts to an unattractive and unedifying example of dirty linen being washed in public."

Referring to Chris Snr, he said: "I take the view the case is simply too serious in his case to allow me to suspend."

Chris Jr, of Welwyn Garden City, Herts, and Adam, of Sevenoaks made no reaction as they walked out of the dock, while their father, of Battersea, south London, also showed little reaction

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