Trinny Woodall will not have to repay her dead ex-husband's debts

Trinny Woodall. Photo / Getty Images
Trinny Woodall. Photo / Getty Images

TV presenter Trinny Woodall has spoken of her 'overwhelming relief' after she was told she does not have to repay the £285,000 in debts her ex-husband owed when he died.

Former rock drummer Johnny Elichaoff, who was married to Ms Woodall for 10 years, took his own life in November 2014, after battling an addiction to painkillers for 20 years.

Six months after his death, creditors launched legal action against his former wife, seeking repayment of more than a quarter of million pounds in debts.

Today Judge Robin Dicker QC dismissed the case, saying the law was clear that any rights Mr Elichaoff might have held did not pass on to his estate after death.

After the ruling, Ms Woodall said: 'It is the most overwhelming relief.

"The judge has confirmed so clearly what we have been saying ever since this bogus and frightening claim was sprung on me over a year ago."

Mr Elichaoff and Ms Woodall married in 1999 and the couple had a daughter together, now 12, before divorcing in 2009.

As part of the divorce settlement, Mr Elichaoff agreed to pay £24,000-a-year each to Ms Woodall and her daughter in maintenance. He also promised to repay £1,412,300 he owed his ex-wife.

However Mr Elichaoff was declared bankrupt over rent arrears just nine days before his divorce settlement was finalised. The divorce was voided by a judge earlier this year.

Five years later, Mr Elichaoff died when he fell from the roof of a central London car park.

An inquest into Mr Elichaoff's death heard that he had battled addiction to painkillers for years after motorbike accident in his thirties.

Ms Woodall, who had remained on good terms with her ex-husband, told the inquest Mr Elichaoff "had a heart attack in his head. He no longer felt he had the strength to deal with his physical and emotional pain".

In July 2015, Ian Robert, the trustee in bankruptcy, issued an application against Ms Woodall seeking a lump sum or a property adjustment order including payment of a sum equivalent to Mr Elichaoff's debts.

The case went to the High Court after a registrar struck out Mr Robert's claim earlier this year saying that it had "no merit whatsoever".

Barrister James Pickering, for the trustee, said Ms Woodall had been the wealthier partner and that Mr Elichaoff should not have had to pay maintenance.

He said: "At the time, the bankrupt was relatively poor and had little or no assets or income. Miss Woodall, on the other hand, was relatively wealthy and had capital resources approaching £1.5million and a six-figure annual income."

The court heard earlier that Ms Woodall did not receive any money from her ex-husband under the divorce settlement.

A spokesman for Ms Woodall told the court: "This is a nightmare for an innocent spouse who received nothing on divorce.

"Yet, years later, she was sued by a trustee in bankruptcy, asserting an unheard of claim to spousal rights of her deceased ex-husband."

Her barrister, Caroline Hely Hutchinson, told the court: "She had a five-year-old daughter and she was entirely responsible for her pastoral and financial care. The husband was a drug addict and these debts have been accrued post-separation.

"As it is, that man never made a further contribution to his wife and never repaid the £1.4million."

Mr Robert claimed Mr Elichaoff's right to financial support from Ms Woodall was "property" available to his creditors.

On Friday, Deputy Judge Robin Dicker dismissed Mr Robert's renewed application for permission to appeal the order.

He said: "I confess to some initial surprise at the suggestion that a trustee in bankruptcy is entitled, after the death of the bankrupt, to apply for an order for financial relief against the surviving party to the marriage, for the benefit of the bankrupt's creditors."

He added that the registrar was correct to have struck out the claim on the basis that Mr Robert had no real prospect of success.

Ms Woodall, who has been romantically linked to Charles Saatchi since 2013, still faces the trustee's claim that she should hand over £40,000 Mr Elichaoff paid her in late 2008, months before his bankruptcy.

- Daily Mail

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