My Love Affair with Michael Ashcroft Left Me Broken and Almost Bankrupt ... He Dumped Me When He Feared Our Secret Romance Would Cost Him a Knighthood
Byline: FIONA BARTON
MICHAEL Ashcroft, the beleaguered To r y Party Treasurer facing calls to resign over his business dealings in Belize, will come under even more intense pressure today over extraordinary disclosures about his relationship with a supermodel.
Paula Hamilton, famous for the VW TV commercial and her battle against drink and drugs, has instructed lawyers and accountants to investigate the handling of her finances during her relationship with the billionaire.
Miss Hamilton has placed documents, bank statements, banking instructions, cards sent to her by Ashcroft, mementos and love tokens from their affair with top London law firm Lawrence Graham.
She has asked them to liaise with her financial advisers in an inquiry into the management of her affairs while she was abroad, being treated for addiction.
At the time, vulnerable and troubled, she believed her lover's assurance that he would 'take care of everything' while she concentrated on getting better, and signed a document giving power over her four bank accounts to his nominee, his personal assistant Angela Entwistle.
The lawyers are assessing the merits of her case and will be seeking confirmation with sources in Florida, Colorado and New York.
When they have completed their inquiries they will be able to advise if she has any cause for complaint.
If they feel that she has a case, the options for taking the matter further could involve Mr Ashcroft in court action.
The investigation centres on the fact that when she emerged from eight months' treatment in 1992, Miss Hamilton discovered she was broke and facing bankruptcy over debts. She believed her money, including an insurance payout of [pounds sterling]76,000 and modelling fees of [pounds sterling]6,000, was being looked after by Ashcroft although she admits there was no formal arrangement.
There is no suggestion that either Mr Ashcroft or Angela Entwistle profited personally, but she believes there are questions to be asked about whether her best interests were served.
'I believed that when he said he would take care of everything, he would be meeting my bills,' she says. 'But I discovered money from my account had been used to pay for everything, including a monthly bill of [pounds sterling]660 for a housekeeper, kept on despite my long absence, and a lawyer's bill I knew nothing about for [pounds sterling]6,924.02.' Miss Hamilton says it has taken all her tenacity to fight back from that nadir in her life but she claims to have faced up to her alcoholism and had therapy at Farm Place in Surrey.
She has moved to the country and says she is ready to challenge 52-year-old Ashcroft's treatment of her.
THERE has been much speculation about Miss Hamilton's relationship with Ashcroft. She wrote a book about her life in which she talked about an older lover but kept his identity secret, changing his name to protect him.
She has never spoken about the affair, maintaining an astonishing loyalty even after it ended. But today, in The Mail on Sunday, she talks for the first time of their extraordinary love story and the ending of the affair which cost her her health, leaving her with the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and brought her to the brink of despair.
It is an amazing story of a billionaire, self-made man who swept off M T her feet a beautiful young woman 15 years his junior, taking her on exotic holidays on his luxury yacht and private jet and indulging in tender and passionate lovemaking, allowing her to believe they would spend the rest of their lives together.
She says: 'I see his treatment of me at the end as manipulative and a sort of cruel game to secure his position in society and get his knighthood, which he so wanted. But Michael Ashcroft no longer has control over any aspect of my life.
'I simply want him to talk to me about what happened between us and allow me some dignity. …