Welcome to ‘Bankruptcy Heroes’, a Rogue’s Gallery of notable bankrupt’s that I found on my journey from debtor to free man. I believe that famous debtors and less familiar characters are equally deserving of reverence. That’s why I made them into a calendar which now adorns my wall. Don’t forget to vote for your favourite at the end. Happy reading…

The Patron Saint of Bankruptcy


1. Daniel Defoe, ye Olde England
English dissenter and author of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders, Defoe is a bankruptcy icon for managing to be declared bankrupt twice. In 1692 his losses in marine insurance caused him to be bankrupt, his second insolvency in 1706 was caused by the failure of his brick works in Tilbury. The stigma of bankruptcy? Just look at the esteemed company we find ourselves in.

PC Plod - Up the Spout

A Fair Cop

  2. Philip Hoare, Southport
In my opinion Phillip Hoare is the complete package. No doubt many would argue that Phillip should have known better given his career as a policeman. In the process of resigning from his job and having already ‘decided in principle to file for bankruptcy’, Mr Hoare is reported to have increased his borrowing from £36,000 to £57,000, giving himself a party fund of £21,000 to soften the blow of his impending bankruptcy.

What exactly did Phillip do with the money? According to the Insolvency Service ‘he claimed to have spent the money variously on prostitutes, gambling, alcohol and his social life’, managing to tick most of the vice boxes as he set about lavishing the bank’s money. Phillip’s achievements didn’t go unrecognised and he received an 8 year Bankruptcy Restriction Undertaking for his efforts. A true Bankruptcy Hero For Our Time.

Is Bankruptcy a Prerequisite for the Modern Dandy?

3. Chris Eubank, Sussex
The eccentric former world middleweight champion British boxer with a penchant for fine clothes and Savile Row suits has something of the modern day dandy about him. Despite earning millions from a successful boxing career Eubank was declared bankrupt in 2005 owing the taxman £1.3 million and was also sued by American Express for non-payment of just under £120,000 owed on credit cards. In 1992 Eubank had described the taxman as a ‘gangster’. Eubank’s extravagances include a £54,000 ten-wheel lorry imported from America with annual running costs of over £20,000 (on insurance and fuel).
Source: The Times 24.11.05

Living on the Edge

4. Stephen Alexander Edge, Wrexham
If you had credit card and loan debts totaling £52,000 and you received £40,000 from the sale of your house you’d probably use it to decrease your liability right? Not so for delivery line manager Mr Edge, who instead of clearing his debt, in just under 11 weeks had withdrawn £39,630 from his bank account and a further £1,000 on his credit card. According to the Insolvency Service Mr Edge claims to have ‘spent this money on gambling, thereby making it unavailable to creditors, before presenting his own petition for bankruptcy.’ Mr Edge’s liabilities totaled £61,773 and he was handed a 6 year BRU as his actions were judged to have depleted his assets thereby significantly exacerbating his insolvency.  Source: The Insolvency Service

Capturing the Hamiltons

5. Neil Hamilton, former Conservative MP
One of the highest profile bankrupts in modern day Britain, former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton was embroiled in the ’cash for questions’ scandal that engulfed parliament. The peculiar circumstances surrounding his bankruptcy were that the bankruptcy petition was brought by Harrod’s owner Mohamed Al Fayed who was owed £1.5 million by Hamilton resulting from court costs due in an unsuccessful libel action brought against Al Fayed in the cash for questions row. Hamilton’s personal liability increased when he lost the subsequent appeal.
Source: The Guardian 23.5.01

One Last Hit

6. Leigh Cooke, Southampton

So you’re about to petition for bankruptcy and then you suddenly have an idea!

Why not call in at the bank, first withdraw £450 and then bugger it, why not a further £3200, before proceeding to the courthouse. That’s exactly what Leigh Cooke did, she was made bankrupt a mere 58 minutes after her little smash ’n’ grab raid.

Now unless she dispensed of the money en route there’s a strong chance she was stood in the bankruptcy queue with a fresh roll of banknotes in her back pocket. Leigh kept quiet about her stash as she swore her statement of affairs and handed in her petition but her audacious move was eventually discovered by the Official Receiver. Unfortunately Leigh’s audacity resulted in her being slapped with an 8 year BRO. The First Lady of Bankrputcy? Quite possibly.

The Crown Prince of Piss-Taking

 7. The Prince of Wales later George IV

This free-spending 18th Century royal was renowned for being a gambler, womaniser and heavy drinker. Prior to his accession George behaved in the most irresponsible manner imaginable, safe in the knowledge that his royal status rendered him immune from the grisly sanctions of the day against debtors.

 When in 1787, to great public outcry, parliament agreed to pay £190,000 of his debt the squandering prince subsequently broke his promise not to overspend again, continuing to fritter £45,000 a year more than his income and by 1795 had debts totaling some £800,000.
Source: The Worst Poverty, A History of Debt and Debtors, Hugh Barty-King



A Bankrupt's Holiday


8. Colin Robert John Cliff, Middlesbrough.
Who needs dole hand-outs when you’ve got easy credit? Not Mr Cliff, who having lost his job avoided the indignity of DSS interviews, opting instead for a credit card spending spree purchasing a holiday, clothes, accessories and making cash withdrawals. Six weeks after embarking on his splurge Mr Cliff filed his own petition for bankruptcy with estimated debts totalling £13,740. Mr Cliff was found guilty of ‘unreasonable extravagance’ according to the Insolvency Service, resulting in a BRO of three years.
Source: The Insolvency Service

Another Fibbing Tory

9. Jonathon Aitken, another former Conservative MP

Following the loss of a libel action where it was proved he’d previously lied in court, Aitken filed for bankruptcy after he was unable to settle his costs with Granada Television and The Guardian newspaper. Poor Jonathon was also sentenced to 18 months prison for perjury. However, the Rogues Gallery does sympathise with Mr Aitken as the ruthless bankruptcy trustees appointed to reapportion his assets sought to force the sale of Mr Aitken’s private correspondence to help clear his £2.4 million debts. Luckily the high court judge considered this proposal by the trustees as a ‘gross invasion of privacy’ and, ’repugnant’. Hear, hear.
Source: The Guardian 11.11.99

Lamenting the Age of the 'Liar Loan'

 10. Paula Shaw, Southend
This hall of fame wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory jobless sponger. Our Paula, unemployed and living on state benefits had a deficit of over £100,000 and a ‘minimal income.’ She claimed to be the managing director of a bogus company, acquiring a £287,000 loan secured on property based on false payslips showing a monthly salary of £5,000. When the property was repossessed the lender had to swallow a shortfall of nearly £79,000. According to the Insolvency Service, ‘this in turn increased the extent of Ms Shaw’s insolvency.’
Source: The Insolvency Service.


You’ve read their stories, now vote for your favourite ‘BANKRUPTCY HERO’